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Health Mind & Body
Under-16 tanning bed ban a step toward cancer prevention
Monday, March 24, 2014 11:00 AM
Healthy, glowing skin is a hallmark of traditional beauty sought by teens and adults alike.
The cost of attaining that glow, however, can be great. And we're not talking about dollars and cents.
More than 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed annually in the United States, making it the most common form of cancer in the nation. More new cases of skin cancer are detected every year than the combined instances of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer.
One in five Americans will be diagnosed during their lifetimes, and more than 9,000 people died from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, in 2013.
Indiana's legislature took an important step this session in reducing the risk of skin cancer for the youngest of our residents. Lawmakers passed a ban on anyone under the age of 16 using tanning beds. The measure awaits Gov. Mike Pence's signature. If the governor has not signed it by Thursday, it will automatically become law.
No doubt many teens will be disappointed they will not be as bronzed as they would like for prom and other social events. And some tanning salons will feel the impact on their business - more than 1 million Americans use tanning facilities each day.
But the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an affiliate of the World Health Organization, cites ultraviolet tanning devices as among the most dangerous cancer-causing substances. Studies show that just one indoor tanning session can increase a user's chance of developing melanoma by 20 percent. Each additional session during the same year boosts the risk another 2 percent.
Fortunately, there's a lot we can do to prevent skin cancer. Stay away from tanning beds - exposure to UV light while using an indoor tanning device can be as much as 12 times the exposure you receive from the sun.
When you're outdoors, seek shade between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Wear sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher that protects against UVA and UVB rays, even when it's a bit cloudy, and don't get burned. And remember to wear a hat to protect your face and sunglasses to prevent damage to your eyes.
Don't be afraid to enjoy the sunshine spring has to offer. Just be safe when you're out catching some rays.
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