Teen Tanning: A Burning Issue

There was a month before homecoming and 16 year old Sarah felt insecure about her skin color. Her dress was a pearly white with shiny rhinestones along the neckline, and she realized her skin was just as white as the dress. In order to get an easy bronze, Sarah decided to go tanning at a local salon. Three weeks later, she noticed a small freckle on her stomach that had never been there before. The freckle, it turned out, was melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Tanning had left its mark early. Teens can put a stop to teen tanning by making it illegal, realizing it wastes money, and learning about how it is linked to skin cancer and other serious health problems.

Teen tanning is a rising controversy that our society now has to face. Currently, over 17 states are considering banning teen tanning, while 29 states have already set regulations for tanning of minors. Some proposals by the legislature include parent consent, while others want tanning completely banned. Teens ages 14-18 residing in Florida must have a signed consent from their parents in order to tan indoors. If the bill is passed in the Sunshine State, anyone younger than 18 will not be allowed the use of tanning beds. A doctor’s consent for anyone under 18 is required in stricter states like Vermont and Texas. Other states like Wisconsin ban teens under 16 to tan while many prohibit young teens under 14 to use tanning beds. If tanning is dangerous just like tobacco and alcohol, why is it still legal (Ban the Tan: teen tanning debate heats up)?

Until you tan for yourself, you never really think about the cost of tanning. Tanning has many hidden costs and it can drain your pockets of cash without you even realizing. According to an article by Andrea Karim, ten percent of Americans spend on average $300 per year to tan indoors. Karim also says that $9 billion is the estimated amount of money wasted per year on trying to achieve the ideal tan. This number does not include the $3 billion Americans spend on tanning lotions, oils, and other self-bronzers. Tons of teen girls do not just tan in the colder months, but tan year-round. Tanning sessions began to add up and sooner or later, you are spending hundreds of dollars per year when you could be saving up for college. A three-month high-pressure package is $180. Tanning lotion or oil can be as much as $30. Years of pain and treatments to regain your skins natural color and elasticity is priceless.

So why are people all over America against teen tanning? The answer is that UV rays (ultraviolet rays) are one of the leading causes of skin cancer as well as many other health issues. The deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma, is caused by over exposure to UVA and UVB rays, and this fatal disease is becoming common in our society. Studies show that tanning at a young age can set you on a track to disaster; it can increase your risks of developing skin cancer later in life, and can double your risks of other serious health problems. When you are a teen, your cells grow rapidly and are extremely vulnerable to UV rays and the damage they can cause to your fragile, youthful skin. Teen tanning can also suppress the immune system, which can lead to other skin and systemic infections. Over exposure to too much heat can even trigger a heat stroke. Cataracts are another serious effect of tanning. Cataracts form when the outermost layer of the eye becomes burned. Barbara Poncelet, Author of the article Teens and Tanning Dangers, says that the World Health Organization believes that 20% of those who are blind with cataracts got them because of over exposure to UV rays. Teens agree that one of the most alarming side effects of tanning is that it speeds up your skins aging process. Poncelet says that when discussing how tanning makes you look older, some teens stopped tanning. When told how it increases the risks of skin cancer, no teens stopped their tanning ritual. Other side effects of tanning are increases of moles on the body, damages to blood vessels in the skin, and damages to the skins connective tissues (Poncelet).

Luckily, 16 year old Sarah caught her cancer in its early stages. Some teens are not that lucky and even die from this deadly hobby called tanning. Making teen tanning illegal is the only way to eliminate the rising numbers in young adults getting cancer due to tanning in their younger days. It is not worth it to pay money for skin cancer and it is definitely not worth it if all you get out of it is health problems. If only teens knew the risks they are taking when they lay under the bright, purplish light, they might understand that their life is more important that the color of their skin. Tan skin lasts only a few months, but healthy skin lasts a lifetime.





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