Should Teens Ban Indoor Tanning Beds

According to the Associated Press Report, a new policy statement strongly discourages the use of tanning salons by anyone under 18.   A recent survey has found that ten percent of 11- to 18-year-olds reported using indoor tanning sunlamps in the previous year, mostly females.

Much has been debated on the harmful effects of Ultra Violet Rays and artificial tans. The fact remains that most young people are convinced that a golden tan is highly desirable and go all out to get and maintain a tan. While few of us are privileged enough to vacation around the year under a tropical sun, it is left to beauty salons to provide packaged tans under a sun lamp.

Celebrities play a large role in enforcing the desirability of a tan. Film and television personalities have a retinue of makeup artists who skillfully showcase golden, sun kissed skin of various artistes. This look is sought after by impressionable teens that spend hours under a sun lamp, spending large amounts of money. The tanning industry is estimated to be around USD 2 billion as per conservative estimates.

Various health agencies have shown through study results that there is a direct link between tanning at an early age and skin cancer.  Medical research has proven the link between prolonged exposure to UV rays which are emitted by tanning lamps and skin cancer. A person with prolonged exposure the Ultraviolet rays of types A and B is at twice the risk of skin cancer as a person who does not use a tanning lamp.

Ultraviolet rays lower the body’s immunity to diseases and infections. A teenager who is exposed to UV rays thus is exposed to infections while with a compromised immunity system and ability to fight infection.

Perhaps the most damaging and visible damage caused by Tanning beds is to the skin. The skin loses moisture rapidly when exposed to UV rays. The elasticity of skin is badly affected. This causes rapid aging of skin. The skin loses its softness and firm tone and becomes leathery and wrinkled. Prolonged exposure to a tanning bed makes a 2o year olds skin lock like that of a 30 year old.

Tanning beds foster a feeling in teens that pale skin is undesirable. The scientific fact that skin color is decided by melanin content in the skin is overlooked. Also overlooked is the fact that the human body has evolved over millions of years to produce just enough melanin to match exposure levels to natural sunlight. A teenager feels incomplete without a tan and feels undesirable with untanned skin.

The US has tried to discourage use of tanning beds through legislation and an increased tax. A more effective way to dissuade teenagers from using tanning beds would be through education and raising awareness about the ill effects of tanning beds.



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