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Why should teenagers avoid tanning beds?

Jenny C. Hu, MD
Dermatology
A survey of high school students showed that about 13% of them had used an indoor tanning device at least one or more times during the past year. Any time you get intermittent exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation -- and that’s also from tanning bed use -- it leads to sunburn. When you have sunburn, especially during your childhood and teen years, it increases your risk of getting melanoma. Tanning beds expose you to UV radiation, which is why it’s of such a big concern and why there have been policy changes with respect to tanning beds in California.

Studies show increased risk not only for melanoma but also other skin cancers due to tanning bed use, especially when you’re younger. The risk for melanoma is increased by as much as 75% if you use tanning beds when you’re younger. Your risk of squamous cell carcinoma increases two and a half times, and your risk of basal cell carcinoma increases about one and a half times.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.