Tonawanda News

Features

December 4, 2012

Tanning beds, particularly dangerous for teens, increasingly are banned

MELBOURNE — Teenage girls trading the risk of deadly melanoma for a year-round tan have helped spur a global backlash against the tanning bed industry.

Health officials from Brasilia to Sydney are banning tanning salons amid evidence that they cause malignant lesions. Use of tanning beds causes all three types of skin cancer, especially for people younger than 25, a study published in October from the University of California, San Francisco said.

Doctors say the research, published in the British Medical Journal, should prompt tougher warnings on ultraviolet radiation-emitting tanning machines. The salons support $5 billion in U.S. annual economic activity, according to the Food and Drug Administration. In May, Vermont followed California, banning teens under 18 from indoor tanning. In Europe, laws prohibiting teens from tanning beds have been enacted in 22 countries, 18 of them since 2009. Age limits in Australia may have forced the closing of a third of sunbed operators there.

"We're seeing an uptick in melanoma cases and deaths among young women," said J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer with the Atlanta-based American Cancer Society. "Are we going to look back in 15 to 20 years from now and wish we'd been more forceful about moving this process forward?"

The FDA has been reviewing its classification of tanning beds since 2010. The machines are subject to general controls such as establishment registration requirements and quality system regulation, spokeswomanMichelle Bolek said.

"This is an important public health issue and we're committed to providing consumers with an update soon on the agency's next steps on tanning bed regulation," she said.

The FDA currently ranks tanning machines as class-I devices - as safe to use, in other words, as elastic bandages. Few other health groups share that position. The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2009 added ultraviolet radiation from tanning machines to a danger category of carcinogens that includes radon and plutonium.

Indoor tanning before age 35 increases the risk for melanoma by 75 percent, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report in May.

Brazil banned cosmetic tanning three years ago. Two Australian states have enacted legislation to ban salons by 2015 and a third plans to introduce a similar bill within months.

Royal Philips Electronics, Europe's largest maker of medical equipment behind Siemens, was a major supplier of products for UV tanning until recently. The Amsterdam-based company discontinued its product portfolio between 2009 and 2010, said Jeannet Harpe, a spokeswoman for Philips Lighting.

"The business is becoming more and more tainted as the evidence becomes clearer," said Craig Sinclair, head of the WHO's Collaborative Centre for UV Radiation in Melbourne.

The number of indoor tanning operators in the city plunged 67 percent since a law in 2008 restricted access to adults 18 years and older. Shutting down solariums completely would avoid one in six melanomas in Australians ages 18 to 29, according to Victoria state's Cancer Council.

At Body Bronze, a chain of 22 salons in Melbourne, a casual eight-minute session in a tanning bed costs A$15 ($16), while a package of 50 sessions goes for A$450, according to a pricelist available at an outlet in Prahran, an inner-city suburb.

Every day in the United States, tanning beds are used by more than 1 million people, mostly Caucasian women ages 16 to 29, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Of the 28 million Americans who go to a tanning salon at least once a year, 2.3 million are teens.

More than 3.5 million skin cancers in 2 million people are diagnosed annually in the U.S., according to the academy, a doctors group in Schaumburg, Ill. This year, 81,240 melanoma cases will be diagnosed and 12,190 people will probably succumb to the malignancy, the American Cancer Society estimates. Women have a 1 in 377 chance of melanoma by age 39. For men, it's 1 in 677.

Ninety percent of all skin cancers are associated with radiation exposure mainly from the sun, according to the International Skin Cancer Foundation in New York. The use of tanning beds compounds the impact of sun exposure because the radiation they emit is stronger than the long-wave UVA and shortwave UVB rays that reach the earth naturally.

UVA output from indoor tanning devices is four times higher and UVB output is twice as high as noon sunlight in Washington D.C. during summer, the CDC said in its May report.

"Every bit of extra UV exposure increases risk," said Bruce Armstrong, professor of public health at the University of Sydney.

Both types of radiation can weaken the immune system, increasing vulnerability to cancer as well as to other diseases, according to a study in the British Medical Journal in July. Tanning lamps induce the types of DNA damage to the skin associated with cancer, the researchers said.

"Each person has a certain amount of capital that protects them from cancer," said Beatrice Secretan, a scientist at the WHO's cancer-research agency. "If you burn that capital too quickly, you are in danger of developing cancer. The lighter the skin, the more at risk you are."

A 2010 survey found 5.6 percent of American adults had used indoor tanning in the previous 12 months. Use was highest among young white women, with almost one in three in the 18-to-25- year-old age group having tanned indoors during the prior year. A 2010 study of 1,167 melanoma cases in Minnesota found indoor tanning use was common among 63 percent of patients.

Catherine Olsen, a senior research officer with the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Brisbane, Australia, reviewed the research in the British Medical Journal in October in which scientists analyzed pooled data from 12 studies and found exposure to indoor tanning increased the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by 67 percent and basal cell carcinoma by 29 percent.

The so-called meta-analysis yielded "irrefutable" evidence that sunbeds caused all three types of skin cancer, not just the most aggressive one known as melanoma, she said.

The emerging research on the harm from indoor tanning is beginning to resonate in the U.S., where in cities such as San Diego, sunbed salons outnumber Starbucks coffee outlets and McDonald's restaurants. Thirty-three U.S. states have laws restricting access to indoor tanning under a certain age - typically 14, 16 or 18 years, the CDC said in May.

"It's a hodge-podge across the United States," said Martin Weinstock, chief of dermatology at the Providence VA Medical Center in Rhode Island.

"The tanning industry does have a lot of a money and, apparently, political power," said Weinstock, chairman of the American Cancer Society's skin cancer advisory committee. "Though they don't have much in the way of scientific argument, they do their best to obfuscate."

One example came earlier this year after researchers at England's Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine wrote a letter to the editor of the International Journal of Cancer in June saying they had found no statistically significant evidence that sunbeds increase melanoma risk in a study. The research wasn't designed to register a small association between the two, only a large one, said co-author Timothy Bishop, chairman of the Leeds Cancer Research UK Centre.

The Tanning Shop, a British chain of 80 salons, responded to the findings by releasing a statement hailing "definitive results from clinical research" that proved "there is no link between sunbed use and melanoma."

The Leeds researchers don't support that interpretation of their findings, said Bishop, adding that he was "extremely disappointed" with the way the study had been portrayed.

Conflicting reports mean "there's still the perception out there that it's safer" to tan in a salon, according to Olsen from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research. "But it's not the case at all."

               

With assistance from Makiko Kitamura in London, Maaike Noordhuis in Amsterdam and Anna Edney in Washington.



 

1
Text Only
Features
  • SUN LIFE fair story 1 072714.jpg More than rides & food

    When the Niagara County Fair opens Wednesday, hundreds of people will enter the county fairgrounds in Lockport for the first of five days of exhibits, shows, rides and food.

    But what not all of the visitors may realize is that much of this summer tradition is the result of months of hard work by 4-H Club members and their leaders and families, all focused on the words of the 4-H motto: “Learn By Doing.”

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE tattoo 1 072714.jpg COLUMN: Behind the tattoo gun

    Tattoos can be a touchy subject. Of course, people have heard they shouldn’t judge a book by its cover; still, people continue to report being denied jobs and being judged harshly for proudly displaying their ink.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - Crib Notes 2014 RGB.jpg CRIB NOTES: No matter what, the kids just want to play the game

    At 35 years old, I may be the oldest person ever to record an out in a kids’ T-ball league.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - critter companions RGB CRITTER COMPANIONS: Visiting the neighbors

    This past week, our lovely neighbors went to the beach for their annual weeklong vacation.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE Open gardens 1 072014.jpg Stop and smell the flowers

    More than 90 private gardens throughout Western New York, and a number of public ones, are open to the public for select hours Thursdays and/or Fridays during July as part of the National Garden Festival’s Open Gardens program, now in its fifth year. The program is separate and distinct from local garden walks, and the gardens range from Gasport to Holland. They’re organized into districts of about five to eight gardens each, including Northtowns West (which includes gardens in Kenmore and the Town of Tonawanda) and Niagara Trail (which includes gardens in Lockport, Gasport and Lewiston).

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE terrariums 1 072014.jpg For the love of nature

    Sara Johnson lives surrounded by green and growing things. Showing a visitor around her apartment in North Buffalo, she pointed out the plants in every room, the balcony and even in two small greenhouses — houseplants, flowers, vegetables, even carnivorous plants.

    "I try to keep as much growing in the house as I can," she said.

    Another goal of hers is to show others how to do the same — and to that end, Johnson is offering a series of workshops this summer in connection with her business, Sylvatica Terrariums, and Project 308 Gallery in North Tonawanda, teaching people how to bring a piece of the outdoors into their homes in the form of a terrarium or other greenery.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE fresh air 1 072014.JPG Getting some fresh air

    As an effort to get children out of the big city and give them a chance to spend part of their summer playing outside, the Fresh Air Fund brings New York City kids to stay with host families for a 10-day trip to a place which is vastly different from their usually surroundings.

    “They will be running outside and playing in the grass and going swimming,” said Cheryl Flick, a fund representative of the Northern Erie and Niagara Counties chapter of the Fresh Air Fund at a picnic for the host families and kids. “They won’t be cooped up inside, they’ll be outside, getting fresh air and being active.”

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - SUN LIFE double trouble 2014.jpg Still waiting for that letter from Hogwarts

    I think it’s true of many parents, that amidst the many challenges and hard work of parenting, we anticipate the day our children grow up just enough ... to like the same things we like, whether it’s as an ongoing phenomenon or a fond childhood memory.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • sig - critter companions RGB Calling all the basic locavores!

    Did you know that the suffix “vore” comes from the Latin word “voro,” which means to devour? I probably knew that once, but I should have paid better attention in my Latin class. “Vore” is used to form nouns indicating what kind of a diet an animal has, such as omnivore, carnivore and herbivore.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE NT tours 071314.jpg A closer look at NT

    When Explore Buffalo Tours got started about eight months ago, the business concentrated on specialized tours designed to showcase specific aspects of the City of Buffalo’s history, architecture and culture.

    Now the organization is looking to the future and trying out ways to highlight the other unique aspects of the Western New York region. The tours change out each month, but the more popular ones will circulate back in, according to Explore Buffalo Executive Director Brad Hahn. This month it’s test-driving its “North Tonawanda: Lumber City” tour, one of only a few to take place outside the City of Buffalo. (Although a Lockport tour is in the works.)

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo