SACRAMENTO, Calif.--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--California’s tanning salons are largely complying with the state’s two-year-old ban on allowing teens under 18 to use tanning booths but are still spreading misinformation, a new study shows.
“Melanoma is the second most common form of cancer for young adults between the ages of 15 and 29, and it kills more than 9,000 Americans each year”
A researcher posing as a 17-year-old successfully contacted 338 tanning operations in California by phone and attempted to make an appointment. When she gave her age, 77 percent of the tanning parlors told her that she could not use the ultraviolet facilities.
“Our study shows that laws such as California’s ban can meaningfully impact access to tanning for teens,” said Jack S. Resneck, Jr., M.D., the study’s senior author. “We’re pleased to find out that the majority of tanning operations are following the law, but it tells us there is more to do when almost a quarter of the respondents in the survey offered to permit UV tanning to our underage caller.”
Dr. Resneck is a member of the board of directors of the California Society of Dermatology & Dermatologic Surgery (CalDerm), which co-sponsored SB 746 (Lieu) with the AIM at Melanoma Foundation in 2011. Similar bans have been enacted in eight other states since California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 746.
Dr. Ann Haas, a co-author of the study and also a CalDerm board member, said it was alarming that almost 80 percent of the facilities contacted told the researcher that she could use the tanning booth once a day or an unlimited number of times per week once she turned 18. She added that 61 percent of tanning facilities asked about indoor tanning risks denied there was any danger and many claimed unproven health benefits, despite prohibitions in state law. The most common claim was the production of Vitamin D, even though similar claims that the benefits of Vitamin D outweighed the risk of skin cancer led to a false advertising charge lodged by the Federal Trade Commission against the Indoor Tanning Association and a 2010 settlement.
“Melanoma is the second most common form of cancer for young adults between the ages of 15 and 29, and it kills more than 9,000 Americans each year,” Dr. Haas said. “Exposure to indoor tanning increases the risk of squamous cell carcinoma by 67 percent and the risk of basal cell carcinoma by almost 30 percent.”
The study is available here and appears in the November issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology and on its website (www.jaad.org). The study results were authored by Dr. Resneck of the University of California, San Francisco; Dr. Haas of Sutter Medical Group in Sacramento, California; Sungat K. Grewal of Commonwealth Medical College, Scranton, Pennsylvania; and Mark J. Pletcher, M.D., MPH of the University of California, San Francisco.