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Tanning Salons in Missouri Admit Young Kids, Claim Indoor Tanning is Safe

Update Date: Feb 26, 2013 07:59 AM EST

Tanning beds, lamps and booths are associated with an increased risk of not only deadly skin cancer, but also cancers of the eye. However, teens continue to use indoor tanning methods to get that perfect tan. And, according to a recent study, children as young as 10 have been reported to use such tanning methods.

The study also found that people who worked at these salons in Missouri said that there were no risks associated with indoor tanning. In the state, some 65 percent of salons said they'd allow children between 10 and 12 years to use the tanning beds. Missouri is one of the 17 states that don't have a minimum age-restriction for use of tanning beds.

Young users (below age 35) of tanning beds are at 75 percent increased risk of developing melanoma, eye cancer, changes in skin texture, etc., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Previous study conducted by CDC had found that 13 percent of all high school students have used indoor tanning.

"This should serve as a wake-up call for parents in Missouri and other states that don't regulate tanning beds. With the absence of logical age restrictions, we are failing to protect our children, who are at an increased risk of developing skin cancer when exposed to the high-intensity levels of ultraviolet light that can be received in a tanning bed," said Lynn Cornelius, M.D., from Washington University and co-author of the study, according to a news release.

The present study included 891 indoor tanning facilities across Missouri. Researchers then randomly selected some 375 and called them, posing as prospective clients. In some cases, researchers called the salon owners twice to maintain consistency of reporting.

Of the 243 salons that completed the survey, 65 percent said that they'd admit children as young as 10 to 12 years to use the tanning beds. The operators at salons also said that the tanning methods were safe and would even protect children from future sunburns, which are false claims.

"Minimizing exposure to ultraviolet rays, no matter the source, lowers one's risk of skin cancer. The problem with indoor tanning is that users start very young and, unlike the sun, tanning beds are a completely avoidable cancer risk," said Graham Colditz, M.D., a cancer prevention expert at Washington University. Colditz wasn't a part of the current study.

The study is published in the journal Pediatrics.

In an article published in 2003 in the journal Archives of Dermatology, researchers say that the U.S. legal system prohibits adolescents from using tobacco but rarely limits access to indoor tanning, whereas the French law denies access to tanning salons but not tobacco.

Previous research has indicated that young people residing in Midwest and South are more likely to engage in behaviors that increase the risk of development of skin cancer.

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