Embrace The Paste: Here's The Scary Truth About Tanning Beds



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You've got to be at least 18 to vote or join the military (without parental permission). And, if U.S. and Canadian lawmakers have their say, you'll soon need to reach the age of consent before you go tanning, too.

This month, New Jersey became the latest state to consider legislation that would ban the use of tanning beds by anyone under age 17. (This is what it sounds like when Snookis cry). California and Vermont already have bans in place for those under 18, while nearly 30 other states have various age restrictions — often requiring minors to get parental consent or a doctor's prescription to tan. And that's just a small chunk of the global backlash against the tanning industry. Germany, France, and the U.K. have also banned indoor tanning for minors, while Brazil has completely outlawed indoor tanning for everyone.

If this sounds like so much government meddling, consider this: Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer — and it's also one of the most preventable. According to the American Cancer Society, melanoma — the deadliest form of skin cancer — is now the most common cancer among people ages 25 to 29, and the second most common cancer among 15- to 29-year-olds.

Meanwhile, experts from the British Medical Journal to the International Agency for Research on Cancer agree that indoor tanning before the age of 35 increases the risk of melanoma dramatically — by up to 75 percent. It doesn't take a genius to connect the dots: preventing young people from tanning could be a huge win for public health.

Still not convinced to go drop the 'T' from your GTL routine? Here's an especially scary fact: The World Health Organization classifies tanning beds as a Group 1 carcinogen. That's the category reserved for those things definitely carcinogenic to humans — right up there with tobacco and plutonium. Sort of puts that so-called "healthy glow" thing into perspective, doesn't it?

We're big fans of embracing our natural skin tone and covering up with a high SPF sunscreen — and, especially since there's a lower survival rate with skin-cancer cases among African Americans, that goes for people of all skin tones. As for the role of UV rays in synthesizing the all-important Vitamin D? We'll stick to our trusty Trader Joe's supplements, thanks very much.

The way things are going, tanning might someday be remembered as an old-timey, wildly unsafe thing people used to do, like riding in cars without seatbelts or smoking indoors. If your winter beauty routine isn't complete without a little fake 'n' bake, just keep in mind: It's not safer to do it indoors — if your skin is getting darker, it means your skin is getting damaged. Besides, there's always sunless tanners).

What do you think? Should minors be allowed to tan, and if not, what regulations would you support?

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Photo: Via AZ Heat Tanning