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Pediatrician group seeks ban on tanning devices for children, teens

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February 28, 2011|By Mary Forgione, Tribune Health
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics seeks a ban on tanning devices for teens and children. Erika Greet, an employee at U-Tan salon, lies in a tanning bed at the shop near the University of Southern California.
The American Academy of Pediatrics seeks a ban on tanning devices for teens… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

Teens and tanning beds aren't a healthy mix, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. The group urges banning children and teens from using indoor tanning devices because of an increased risk of skin cancer.

In a policy statement released Monday, the organization says it favors outlawing access to tanning salons for children younger than 18. The statement cites several studies, including research that shows a link between people overexposed to the sun in childhood and melanoma, one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer. The academy joins the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Dermatology in advocating for such a ban.

So how many teens tan indoors? The policy statement says:

"Artificial tanning is a common practice among teenagers. Use of a tanning facility at least once in their lives was reported by 24 percent of non-Hispanic white teenagers 13 to 19 years of age in a US sample.

"In another national survey, 10% of youths 11 to 18 years of age reported using indoor tanning sunlamps in the previous year. Women and girls constitute the majority of people who artificially tan." Here's the full statement "Ultraviolet Radiation: A Hazard to Children and Adolescents."

And here are tips from the Environmental Protection Agency on how kids -- and everyone, really -- can avoid overexposure to the sun:

-- Do not burn.
-- Avoid sun tanning and tanning beds.
-- Apply sunscreen generously.
-- Wear protective clothing (think long sleeves, hat with a big brim, sunglasses).
-- Seek shade.
-- Use extra caution near water, snow and sand (the reflection increases your risk of burning).
-- Check the UV index.
-- Get Vitamin D safely (from food rather than the sun).

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