Future of tanning beds in doubt for those under 18

Ellen Gustavson/Staff Writer

Spring has arrived — by Iowa’s standards, anyway.

This means the days of green grass, sunshine, smelling flowers, outdoor grilling and short shorts have returned. But for many, that means one thing: time to hit the tanning beds. Teenage girls especially seem to feel the need to use tanning salons regularly to “fake-bake” their way to a summer glow. Apparently, being white is as out of style as hoop skirts. In fact, 80 percent of people under age 25 think they look better with a tan.

“[A fake tan] looks good on some but really bad on others,” sophomore Kaitlin Izer said.

While it may be nice to emerge from the long, bitter winter looking like you’ve spent a week (or in some peoples’ case, a month) at the beach, it may not be nice in the long run. It is almost common knowledge that tanning is bad for skin. Numerous studies have shown a connection between tanning beds and skin cancer, which has been on about a 60 percent rise in the last 20 years. In fact, women who tan just once a month are 55 percent more likely to develop melanoma. Younger women in their 20s have an astounding 150 percent higher chance. To make matters worse for teenage fake-bakers, the chance of getting skin cancer is increased even more because they are younger. Tanning beds are also the cause of premature aging and wrinkles, sun poisoning, eye damage, photosensitivity and even a weakened immune system.

Of course, the tanning salons would prefer we remain ignorant of that. They’ve been advertising tanning as being “safe and beneficial,” something the Federal Trade Commission is trying to stop. Don’t be fooled by the claims that fair skinned people are better off tanning inside than burning outside. The truth is, any exposure to UV radiation damages skin.
A panel of experts at the FDA is trying to prohibit tanning for people under 18. The new health law that Congress just passed will also make tanning salons charge a 10 percent tax in
hopes of reducing the number of tanners.

According to the ITA (Indoor Tanning Association), 40 percent of girls and 11 percent of guys age 17 to 18 fake bake. As for the non-fake-baking population, well, we think it’s a rather ridiculous practice.

Sophomore Rhydian Talbot joked, “Fake baking is great if you want to be an oompa-loompa, but I’d rather be human, thank you.”

However, if you just can’t stand living in your own natural, healthy, wrinkle-free skin, save yourself the money (and cancer) and try some sunless tanning lotion. It’s OK — we all know you’re white anyway.

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