Scientists have uncovered that some women may be addicted to tanning in the same way that substance abusers are addicted to drugs. A study in the August edition of the publication Journal Watch revealed that 40 % of frequent tanning bed users meet addiction diagnosis criteria. The majority of tanning bed users in the United States is college-age women. The same statistic is true in San Jose and the rest of the Silicon Valley. Even with 300 sunny days and an annual average temperature of 72 degrees, San Jose’s indoor tanning industry is thriving.
Significant health risks are attributed indoor tanning
The World Health Organization has declared that tanning poses serious health risks for repetitive users. Skin cancers may develop due to ultraviolet rays emitting from indoor tanning lamps. One type of skin cancer, melanoma, is a potentially fatal form that can occur with frequent exposure to ultraviolet rays. In a 2009 study conducted by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), college students aware of cancer risks were not deterred from using tanning beds. Alarmingly, women that begin tanning before age 30 are 75% more likely to develop skin cancer.
New regulations for indoor tanning are being considered
The city of San Jose has approximately 32 tanning salons operating under California tanning laws. Facilities must provide protective eye wear, limit tanning times, and ban users under the age of 14. Persons between the ages of 14 and 18 must have written guardian consent. Despite objections from the tanning industry, salons incurred a 10% operating tax in 2010. However, it is not likely that this new tax will decrease the number of women who tan. A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel is considering further restrictions. They have proposed restricting tanning to the lightest skinned persons who are at highest skin cancer risk. They may also propose a ban on tanning in persons under 18. Younger patronage may mean increased risk of tanning addiction. This may come as good news to Journal Watch author Dr. Hensin Tsao who writes, “The real challenge is to translate these findings into concrete interventions to reduce the risky behavior. Perhaps lessons gained from the study of other substance-related disorders can be used as a template.”
To obtain more information about tanning, products, and skin protection, visit FDA.gov.
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