Physician Groups Push to Strengthen NC’s Indoor Tanning Law

On Monday, January 23, a committee of the Child Fatality Task Force took up the issue of indoor tanning and legislation proposed by the North Carolina Dermatology Association (NCDA) to ban teens and children under 18 years of age from using indoor tanning beds. The NCDA offered testimony to the committee stressing the science which confirms the danger of indoor tanning devices and citing recent studies validating the need for stronger laws to protect our state’s youth.

Speaking for the NCDA were David Ollila, MD, Professor of Surgery at UNC-Chapel Hill and Co-Director of the UNC Melanoma Program; and Craig Burkhart, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatric Dermatology at UNC-Chapel Hill. Also providing supporting statements were Amy Whited on behalf of the NC Medical Society and Christine Weason for the American Cancer Society.

Some of the key points in the NCDA’s testimony included:

  • The science is clear: there are no health benefits from tanning beds that cannot be obtained more safely and without the risk of skin cancer.
  • There are safe alternatives to tanning beds that many tanning bed operators are already offering.
  • UV radiation in tanning booths can be up to 15 times greater than the sun.
  • Every visit to a tanning bed increases the odds of developing melanoma.
  • Melanoma incidence is rising at alarming rates.
  • Melanoma ranks second among all cancers in years of productive life lost.
  • Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for adolescents and young adults 15-29 years old.
  • Melanoma is increasing faster in females 15-29 years old than males in the same age group.
  • Even minimal exposure to UV radiation from tanning beds before the age of 35 can increase the risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent.
    [IARC. International Journal of Cancer: 2006 March 1;120:1116-1122.]
  • A person who has used tanning devices for more than 50 hours, 100 sessions, or 10 or more years is 2.5 to 3 times more likely to develop melanoma than a person who has never tanned indoors.
    [Lazovich D, Vogel RI, Berwick M, Weinstock MA, Anderson KE, Warshaw EM.  Indoor tanning and risk of melanoma: a case-control study in a highly exposed population. Cancer Epidemiol Prev 2010;19:1557-68.]
  • North Carolina laws currently protect children’s health by restricting their access to: 
          -Tobacco         -Alcohol         -OTC medications
  • The estimated total direct cost associated with the treatment of melanoma in 2010 was $2.36 billion
  • Protecting children from tanning beds will save lives and millions of dollars in avoidable health care costs

The indoor tanning industry was represented by a paid consultant, Mr. Lee Feldman, who asserted that the research on indoor tanning was of poor quality and that the science is inconclusive. 

Following deliberation, the committee voted to send a recommendation to the full Child Fatality Task Force that it should support an increase on the age limit for indoor tanning from 14 to 18 years of age. The Task Force is scheduled to take up this issue at the April 16 meeting.

Questions about the indoor tanning issue may be directed to Alan Skipper, Director of Speciality Society and Meeting Services, at askipper@ncmedsoc.org.

On Wednesday, February 1, 2012, CBS News reported that a new congressional report accused tanning salons of lying to customers just to get their business. Click here to view Probe: Tanning Salons Lure Teens with Lies, by Correspondent Nancy Cordes.

 
 

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