Children as young as 10 are at risk of skin cancer from using sunbeds due to tanning salons not being regulated
Survey revealed two thirds of salon operators in U.S state would allow kids as young as 10 to use sunbedsSunbed use increases the risk of most deadly form of skin cancer by up to 75%Children are at greater risk of doing long-term damage as they have thinner, more delicate skin
17:29 GMT, 25 February 2013
19:03 GMT, 25 February 2013
Children as young as 10 are at risk of skin cancer by using sunbeds, a worrying report has found.
A survey of salon operators in Missouri shows that 65 per cent would allow youngsters aged 10 to 12-years-old to use tanning beds.
This is despite strong evidence that sunbed use can increase the risk of the most deadly form of skin cancer – melanoma – by 75 per cent.
Children are at greater risk of doing long-term damage than adults as they have thinner, more delicate skin.
Children are at greater risk from sunbeds as they have thinner, more delicate skin than adults
Sunbed use is banned among under-18s in the UK as a result, although recent research revealed teenagers are regularly flouting it. California is the only U.S state with a similar law.
Meanwhile, Missouri is one of 17 states that has no minimum age restrictions on sunbed use and does not require parental consent.
Co-author Lynn Cornelius, of Washington University School of Medicine, said: '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.'
Sunbed users are up to 2.5 times more likely to develop more common non-melanoma skin cancers, such as basal cell and squamous cell cancers.
The World Health Organization has stated
that people younger than 18 should not use tanning beds, a
recommendation based on several scientific studies.
Dr Cornelius says she and her colleagues at the Siteman Cancer Center routinely see young, female, melanoma patients who report previous tanning bed use.
'Indoor tanning may seem innocuous at first,' she says.
'Due to what is called 'tumor lag time,' or the time between an exposure to a carcinogen such as ultraviolet and the development of a cancer, it may take a decade or longer for someone who has been exposed to artificial ultraviolet radiation from tanning beds to develop a skin cancer.'
Melanoma on the skin: Around 62,000 people in the U.S are diagnosed with this most dangerous form each year
For the study, published online in the journal Pediatrics, researchers identified 831 indoor tanning facilities across Missouri and randomly selected and called 375 of them, posing as prospective clients. For consistency, the researchers made attempts to survey each salon twice.
Operators of 65 per cent of the participating facilities said they would allow children as young as 10 or 12 to use indoor-tanning devices.
Employees at 43 per cent claimed there were no risks associated with sunbed, and 80 per cent of facility operators said indoor tanning would prevent future sunburn. Both claims are false, the study notes.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer has deemed ultraviolet rays from the sun and artificial tanning devices as carcinogenic to humans, equivalent to tobacco.
'Minimizing exposure to ultraviolet rays, no matter the source, lowers one's risk of skin cancer,' says Dr Graham Colditz, a cancer prevention expert at Washington University and the Siteman Cancer Center who wasn't involved in the study.
'The problem with indoor tanning is that users start very young and, unlike the sun, tanning beds are a completely avoidable cancer risk.'
He added they should protect themselves from sun exposure using hats, long-sleeve shirts and suncream.