In the previous post, public health advocate Professor Simon Chapman called for a ban on solaria. Tanning salons are also causing heatwaves in the US – and some dilemmas for health policy, reports Dr Lesley Russell, of the Menzies Centre for Health Policy.
“The issue of tanning salons is a hot topic in the US because the recently passed health care reform bill contains a 10% tax on individuals receiving indoor tanning services to help fund the cost of the bill. The initiative is expected to generate $2.7 billion over ten years. Perhaps under those circumstances the health policy people face something of a dilemma when it comes to banning tanning salons.
A study released just today found that Americans who regularly use tanning beds may double or even triple their risk of developing melanoma. Compared with those who had never used a tanning bed, people who spent more than 50 hours under the tanning lights were three times more likely to develop melanoma. People who frequented tanning salons for more than 10 years or who logged more than 100 sessions were about 2.5 times more likely to develop the cancer.
The indoor tanning industry took issue with the findings even before they were released, claiming that focus on the fair-skinned population of Minnesota skews the results.
The study comes as an FDA advisory panel is pondering tougher regulations on indoor tanning, including use restrictions or an outright ban for people under age 18. At a meeting in late March, the panel discussed strengthening skin-cancer warnings at tanning salons and moving tanning beds to a class of medical devices that includes CT scanners, among other measures.
Another recent study in the April issue of the Archives of Dermatology found that every year more than 2 million teenagers in the United States visit tanning salons. Only three American states — Texas, Illinois and Wisconsin — have laws to keep children from using tanning beds.
The study examined laws governing access to tanning salons with regulations on another known carcinogen, tobacco, in France and five English-speaking countries: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States that regulate tanning salons. Only France has a complete ban on indoor tanning use for children under 18.
Texas prohibits the use of tanning salons by kids under 13; in Illinois, it’s for children under 14; Wisconsin limits kids 16 and under; and the Canadian province of New Brunswick bans indoor tanning for anyone under 18.
The findings of a second paper that looked at the use of tanning salons by college students suggest that interventions to reduce skin cancer risk should address the addictive qualities of indoor tanning for a minority of individuals.”