Bed Time's a No No

Melanoma and tanning bed risks are related

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Many children and adolescents establish a great tan this summer. With school starting soon, they might be tempted to extend the tan with trips to tanning beds.

The data keeps rolling in about the harmful effects of tanning beds. The best offense is usually a good defense, so pediatric oncologists from MD Anderson are encouraging parents to initiate discussions with their children about tanning beds' false claims and eventual harms.

"Tanning beds usage leads to skin cancer."

Dennis Hughes, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital reports that tanning bed use before the age of 30 increases a person's risk of developing malignant melanoma by 75 percent. The doctor suggests inserting the "bed time" talk in with the sex, drugs and rock and roll discussion.

Talking the talk should begin early in a child's life because there appears to be an addictive quality associated with tanning beds.Recent data indicates that 35 percent of 17-year-old girls have tried them. Among college-age users, 80 percent report they cannot give this habit up.

Dr. Hughes recommends education before the kids have the mobility to start the habit; i.e., before they have their own wheels. However, cancer doesn't scare kids because they usually have the superman complex, and think that nothing can get to them. A better approach, according to Dr. Hughes is explaining that this unnatural tanning doesn't look good.

To make matters worse, businesses offering tanning bed services will sometimes make false and misleading claims like "The beds are safer than sunlight" and "they provide more vitamin D than the sun." Parents are encouraged by Dr. Hughes to give these children a reality check.

"Bed time" talks should include:

  • Tanning beds emit the exact same harmful ultraviolet rays as the sun. These rays are responsible for increasing a person's risk for melanoma.
  • Vitamin D deficiency is very rare in young people with a reasonable diet.
  • Too much ultraviolet ray exposure, that can be attained from tanning beds, actually makes one lose vitamin D.

Dr. Hughes suggests giving children different options to sustain their tans. There are many safe lotions, self-tanning products and spray tans available. These provide the Greek goddess look without the skin damage and cancer risks.

Also, to establish credibility and set a good example, Dr. Hughes advises parents not to use tanning beds.





Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 4, 2011
Last Updated:
August 8, 2011