Sunday, April 18, 2010

Teens and Tanning

When I was a teenager, I worked as a lifeguard every summer and I went tanning a few times before big school dances. I think teens are smarter now. At least, I hope they are! They can definitely get a spray tan for a dance and hopefully they wear sunscreen during the summer. Have you ever used a tanning bed? Would you allow your kids (as teens) to go tanning?

Some Ohio teenagers actually signed a pledge saying they would not go tanning this prom season. FROM FOX:High school is full of pressures for teenagers. Beth Mancini wants to make sure teens know the pressure to be tan shouldn't drive them to the tanning bed.

Mancini, who was diagnosed with melanoma in 2003, went to Nordonia High School in hopes of getting students to sign the Prom Pledge to save your skin. She wants teens to stay away from the tanning bed during prom season.

"One of the things I did that I think contributed to my melanoma was tanning beds. I tanned a lot when I was in college, I felt this pressure to have some color I'm very fair," Mancini said.

Mancini is working through the Melanoma International Foundation to spread the message about the dangers of ultraviolet rays. Eight teens at Nordonia High School heard the message, and they all signed the promise not to get in a tanning bed in preparation for prom. In return, each got a certificate for a free haircut and a free spray tan donated by two local salons.

Senior Melissa Aliff signed the pledge. She has never been in a tanning bed, but she believes the message is good to get to other teens.

"A lot of kids are going to know more about melanoma and skin cancer because of this pledge," Aliff said,

Visiting the tanning bed before a formal dance is common for a lot of teens. Danielle Zuercher said she had tanned before, but after signing the pledge she realizes her skin and her health are more important.

"This year I'm confident with myself, I'm going to wear a nice dress, I'm going to have my hair done, wear all my make-up, I'm going to feel confident and look good even though I'm not tan," Zuercher said.

Beth Mancini says she hopes to expand the save your skin pledge to other schools.


Dangers associated with childhood UV exposure

Childhood exposure to UV and the number of times a child is burnt by UV, either from the sun or from sunbeds, are known to increase the risk of developing melanoma later in life. For this reason, particular attention is required to ensure children and adolescents do not use sunbeds. The United States Department of Health and Human Services has classified exposure to sunlamps or sunbeds as "known to be carcinogenic to humans" and states that the longer the exposure, the greater the risk, especially to people exposed before the age of 30 years.

About sunbeds

Sunbeds emit predominantly UVA and some UVB, both of which can damage the DNA in cells of the skin. However, in recent years, lamps of sunbeds have been manufactured that produce higher levels of UVB to mimic the solar spectrum and speed the tanning process. While UVB has well known carcinogenic properties and whose excessive exposure is known to lead to the development of skin cancers, recent scientific studies suggest that high exposures to the longer wavelength UVA could also have an impact on skin cancer occurrence.

As with sun exposure, recent studies indicate a relationship between the use of sunbeds and malignant melanoma as well as non-melanoma skin cancers such as squamous and basal cell carcinomas. Thus, the consequences of regular sunbed use may include disfigurement from removal of skin cancers, early death if the cancer is a malignant melanoma, as well as substantial costs to national health systems for screening, treating and monitoring skin cancer patients.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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