Taking a new step on preventing melanoma, Edmund G. Brown, Jr., California Governor, signed on October 9 SB 746 into a law that restricts persons under age of 18 from using indoor tanning devices.
The law takes effect starting January 1, 2012.
It is the first time in the U.S. when a state interdicts tanning beds use to minors. Senate Bill 746 replaces the current law, which allows teens (14-17 years old) to use tanning beds if they have parental permission.
Minimum 32 states regulate the use of tanning devices by teens. In 2010 Howard County, Maryland was the first jurisdiction that restricted tanning booths for children under 18. Texas has prohibited the use of tanning booths for persons under 16.
Senator Ted W. Lieu is the author of the bill in the Senate and the law was sponsored by AIM at Melanoma and the California Society of Dermatology & Dermatological Surgery (CalDerm) and backed by medical organizations and health insurers.
Illinois, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island have considered the same age limit for tanning beds prohibition, but they have to enact the law.
Indoor Tanning Association said the interdiction affects businesses, lots of them owned by women, as around 5 percent to 10 percent of its members’ customers are under 18.
Tanning salons are regulated by the state Department of Consumer Affairs and the federal Food and Drug Administration, said the organization.
The linkage between tanning devices and melanoma was emphasized during the recent years.
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and artificial sources (tanning beds and sun lamps) is a carcinogen, stated The United States Department of Health and Human Services in 2002.
“People under the age of 35 who are exposed to indoor tanning have a 75 percent increased risk of skin cancer, and the younger you are exposed to indoor tanning, the greater your risk of getting potentially fatal melanoma,” Dr. Peter Beilenson said in 2009, citing a study from the World Health Organization.
“Teenagers are much more likely to burn with indoor tanning. Fifty-eight percent report burning in indoor tanning. And burns, particularly at a young age, are clearly correlated with developing melanoma and other skin cancers later in life,” he said.
Repeated exposure to UV radiation from tanning devices before age of 35 is associated with a 75 percent increased risk of melanoma, and non-melanoma skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma), studies show.
Around 30 million people in the U. S., including 2.3 million teens, use tanning beds annually.
The use of tanning devices before the age of 20 double the risk of developing melanoma. In women between the ages of 25 and 30 melanoma causes more deaths than all other cancers, while in women 30-34 this deadliest skin cancer comes second after the breast cancer.
“If everyone knew the true dangers of tanning beds, they’d be shocked. Skin cancer is a rising epidemic and the leading cause of cancer death for women between 25 and 29,” said Ted Lieu and cited a recent Stanford Cancer Institute study according to higher melanoma rates were found among girls and young women in areas of higher income.
“Indoor tanning is especially harmful because of the intense and dangerous type of UV rays emitted from the tanning beds. Moreover the skin damage is cumulative, so the more exposure one gets younger in life, the worse the harmful effects will be,” he said.
More than 3.5 million skin cancers in more than 2 million people are diagnosed annually. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer during the lifetime, it is estimated.
Jerry Brown was praised by the melanoma prevention supporters.
“California is expected to have 8,250 new cases of melanoma in 2011, or approximately 12 percent of the estimated 70,000 cases nationwide. Melanoma incidence rates have been increasing for the last 30 years, but have been growing most rapidly — three percent per year — since 1992 among young women ages 15 to 39. We encourage other states to follow California’s lead and help slow the incidence of potentially deadly skin cancer by prohibiting the use of commercial tanning devices by minors,” said dermatologist Ann F. Haas, MD, FAAD, former president of the CalDerm.
“I praise Governor Brown for his courage in taking this much-needed step to protect some of California’s most vulnerable residents – our kids – from what the ‘House of Medicine’ has conclusively shown is lethally dangerous: ultraviolet-emitting radiation from tanning beds,” said Ted Lieu.
“Girls in affluent California communities especially are surrounded by the message that being tanned all year round is cool. Pop music star Katy Perry is even singing about it,” said Christina Clarke of the Cancer Prevention Institute of California.
“The California Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery (CalDerm) and AIM at Melanoma Foundation, the bill’s two co-sponsors, applaud Governor Brown for taking the time to thoroughly understand the importance of this first-in-the-nation legislation. We also commend Senator Ted Lieu, his staff and the members of the California legislature who supported efforts to protect young Californians from the dangers of indoor tanning,” said Alex Miller, MD, President of CalDerm.
“This is a major victory in the fight against melanoma. It is alarming that so many young women are unnecessarily developing melanoma because of a recreational activity. We applaud Governor Brown for taking advantage of this unique opportunity to blaze a trail by banning minors from using tanning beds. We thank him for joining our fight against this preventable killer,” said Valerie Guild, president and founder of AIM at Melanoma.
Valerie Guild lost her daughter (age 26) because of melanoma. AIM at Melanoma was founded in memory of Charlie Guild and Jim Schlipmann (who died of melanoma at 44). It is the largest international melanoma foundation focused on melanoma research, patient advocacy, legislation, education and awareness. The foundation supports melanoma research efforts by hosting international research forums and is helping to create the first melanoma tissue bank, widely believed by the oncology community to be a key to major breakthroughs in melanoma research.
For more information on melanoma please visit www.AIMatMelanoma.org, www.aad.org, or contact the Academy at 1 (888) 462-DERM (3376).