Iowa should limit teen access to tanning beds

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: February 27 2014 | 11:46 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 4:14 am in

In your tanning bed legislation editorial (“Tanning beds: Another law won’t work,” Feb. 14) I strongly disagree with your statement that “the risks of tanning do not add up to the ... health threat that warrants state action.”

A recent study in a respected medical journal found that there are more skin cancer cases due to indoor tanning than there are lung cancers due to smoking. The study found there are more than 419,000 new skin cancer cases attributable to indoor tanning each year. There is a 75 percent increase in the risk of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, from exposure to indoor tanning beds.

According to the National Cancer Institute, the estimated cost of treating melanoma in 2010 was $2.36 billion. That impacts our public health care expenditures.

The Gazette’s recommendation that parental monitoring of tanning bed use is flawed because parents are often uninformed, compounded by the misinformation promoted by tanning salons. A recent U.S. congressional committee report found that nearly 90 percent of salons stated that indoor tanning did not pose a health risk and 80 percent falsely claimed that indoor tanning is beneficial to a young person’s health.

Lastly, parents often have many challenges to monitor in their teenage children and this issue often fails to make the list. Nearly 70 percent of tanning bed patrons are young Caucasian girls and women. Parental monitoring is not working. Iowa should join 33 other states that limit adolescents access to tanning beds.

Dr. Susan Dale Wall

Iowa City




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