Without Laws, Many Tanning Salons Would Allow Kids: Study

Missouri survey found operators often misrepresent indoor tanning as safe, even healthy

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"The tanning industry today does not have very high standards for safety," said Dr. Bruce Brod, chair of the American Academy of Dermatology's State Policy Committee. "It's very analogous to the tobacco industry, which used to actually claim that smoking was good for you before it became widely accepted that tobacco is carcinogenic," he explained.

"And even in states with regulations, there are as many tanning salons as there are Starbucks and McDonald's," he added. "So it's almost impossible to monitor compliance. But we do need more laws on the books, because laws raise awareness and send a message to the public that this is really dangerous."

DeAnn Lazovich, an associate professor in the division of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, agreed.

"There is confusion about the artificial nature of UV in tanning salons," Lazovich said. "And there's an overwhelming draw to tan skin as a marker of beauty and a sign of health. Especially among adolescent girls and young women, who are the predominant users. So we have to make it clear that any time the skin is exposed to UV, damage is occurring. There is no safe way to tan."

More information

For more on state-by-state tanning regulations, visit the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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