Health concerns related to the use of tanning beds is once again in the forefront. Numerous studies indicate that using tanning beds by youth increases their risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent. Melanoma is one of the most deadly forms of cancer. Approximately 69,000 cases were diagnosed last year alone. Beyond melanoma, ultraviolet ray exposure is also linked to basal and squamous cell carcinomas which, according to the American Cancer Society, result in 2,000 deaths a year.
Now the Food and Drug Administration is considering stricter regulations for the use of tanning beds. The FDA may require more precise warnings about the dangers. As reported recently by the Deseret News editorial board, “the growing scientific consensus is there’s no such thing as a safe tan.” The FDA will conduct a public hearing this coming March.
Cognizant of these risks, in 2007, Senator Patricia Jones sponsored and passed SB 52, Health Regulations for Public Indoor Tanning Beds. Utah law now requires IN PERSON parental consent once a year for minors to use commercial tanning beds. Parents are required to read warnings about the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays from tanning beds and sign for the number of tanning sessions their children can receive.
The health risks and associated costs down the road are avoidable. Hopefully, the protection provided by Utah law and the prospective FDA regulations will affect the choices of our youth. They may wisely opt for shade during the day and a spray-on tan for the prom.