Rhode Island took a great step today to protect youth from the dangers of skin cancer by prohibiting the use of indoor tanning beds by minors under the age of 18 without parental consent. This important action is based on significant scientific evidence that indoor tanning is undeniably linked to increased risk of developing melanoma and other forms of skin cancer.
“The American Academy of Dermatology Association applauds Rhode Island for joining in the fight against melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, and non-melanoma skin cancers. A ban on indoor tanning for minors is critical to preventing skin cancer and reducing our country’s health care costs,” said Daniel M. Siegel, MD, FAAD, president of the American Academy of Dermatology Association. “Melanoma incidence rates have been increasing for the last 30 years, with the most rapid increases occurring among young, white women, the most common users of indoor tanning beds. In fact, in Rhode Island the incidence rate for melanoma in women 15 years and older increased by 24 percent between 2004 and 2008. Prohibiting minors’ access to indoor tanning stops this behavior before it can become a habit that continues through adolescence into adulthood.”
More than 3.5 million skin cancers in more than 2 million people are diagnosed annually. It is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. In Rhode Island, more than 290 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed this year.
“Prevention is one of the most valuable tools that we have as dermatologists. We need to continue educating patients about the risks of indoor tanning and encouraging healthy decisions to help prevent skin cancer,” said Dr. Siegel. “This law is similar to bans in California and Vermont that will protect children and adolescents from the health hazards of indoor tanning and send a strong message from the state that tanning is a dangerous behavior and should be avoided.”
The United States Department of Health and Human Services proclaimed in 2002 that ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds and sun lamps, is a known carcinogen. Yet, nearly 30 million people tan indoors in the United States annually. Of these, 2.3 million are teens.
In an effort to increase the public’s understanding of skin cancer and motivate people to change their behavior to prevent and detect skin cancer, the Academy recently launched the SPOT Skin Cancer™ public awareness initiative. Visit the SPOT Skin Cancer™ website — www.SpotSkinCancer.org — to learn how to perform a skin self-exam, download a body mole map for tracking changes on your skin, and find free skin cancer screenings in your area. Those affected by skin cancer also can share their story via the website and download free materials to educate others in their community.
American Academy of Dermatology (Academy)