May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, a time to remind our patients and our friends to protect their skin and to be screened regularly.
This year, however, doctors across North Carolina also are using May to focus on legislation to keep teens out of tanning beds and protect them from the dangers of UV radiation.
According to research confirmed by the American Academy of Dermatology, teens and young adults who begin tanning before the age of 35 have a 59 percent higher risk of melanoma. And just one indoor tanning session increases the user’s risk of melanoma by 20 percent.
There are more than 1,400 tanning beds registered to operate in North Carolina – more than twice the number of McDonald’s.
More than a quarter of 17-year-olds have used an indoor tanning facility, according to the US Centers for Disease Control. Nearly 70 percent of tanning salon patrons are Caucasian girls and women, primarily aged 16 to 29 years.
So it should not be a surprise that melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for young people 15-29 years old.
To address the epidemic of skin cancer in young people, a coalition of North Carolinians is sponsoring legislation to prohibit teens under 18 years of age from tanning beds. This very simple legislation is supported by the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS), the American Cancer Society, the NC Advisory Committee on Cancer Coordination and Control, the NC Child Fatality Task Force, The NC Dermatology Association as well as the NC Oncology Association, NC Pediatric Society and AIM at Melanoma.
Other states, including Texas, Vermont, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon and California now prohibit minors from using tanning beds.
HB18, the Youth Skin Cancer Prevention Act passed the N.C. House of Representatives with a strong bipartisan vote of 94-22 last year. The goal for this year is to get the bill passed by the Senate and signed into law by Governor McCrory.
You can help. Take a moment to contact your state senator and ask that they approve this legislation this year.
For more information about this issue, visit www.preventskincancernc.org or email the NC Dermatology Association’s government relations consultant, Rob Lamme, at email@example.com.