State should consider regulations
May, our first sunny warm weather month, is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. People begin spending more time outdoors under sunny skies. Teens look forward to school recesses and summer breaks.
In misguided efforts to improve their appearance, many young people desire skin tans. People will lie exposed under direct sunlight. Others will lie in tanning beds, exposing themselves to artificial UV radiation, falsely believing that artificial tans offer protection from the sun’s natural radiation, or offer health benefits such as increased vitamin D. [“FDA wants cancer warnings on tanning beds,” seattletimes.com, May 6.]
Unprotected exposure to natural sunlight has always been dangerous, increasing skin-cancer risk, particularly melanoma, one of the deadliest cancers. Exposure to artificial tanning bed UV radiation is even more so. People under 35 using tanning beds increase their melanoma risk 75 percent. Even so, the number of young people using tanning beds has increased from 1 percent to 27 percent over the last 20 years.
The US Food & Drug Administration has just made proposals to reclassify tanning devices as cancer-causing. As Washingtonians, we should ask Olympia to pass tanning-bed regulations. As parents, we should protect our children and prohibit them from using indoor tanning devices. As individuals, we should become examples by refusing to tan.
Bill Wardwell, ambassador, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Seattle