Study: Melanoma linked to tanning

The number of melanoma cases in young adults has risen over the years, and health professionals say tanning-bed use is one of the main contributing factors. USA Today recently reported on this issue with the latest findings from the Mayo Clinic.

“The incidence of cutaneous melanoma among young adults is rapidly increasing, especially among women,” the April issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings concluded. The results also said those at high risk for obtaining the disease should be monitored.

“I'm not surprised about the increasing melanoma rates,” said Mallory Mitchell, a junior majoring in secondary education. “It seems like there are more people going to the tanning bed now than ever. Even a lot of guys are going. So, it does not surprise me that more people are receiving harmful effects from it.”

While much of the blame for the rise in skin cancer is being directed toward tanning bed companies, they maintain the jury is still out.

"There is no consensus among researchers regarding the relationship between melanoma skin cancer and UV exposure either from the sun or a sunbed," John Overstreet, the executive director of the Indoor Tanning Association, told USA Today. “I expect more from the Mayo Clinic. There is no direct link from their report to tanning beds.”

“I don't think that tanning beds should be regulated or reprimanded for their product,” said Molly Mitchell, a junior majoring in telecommunication and film. “There are clear warnings about what can happen to your health, and girls can look up info on all risks. We live in America, where one has choices to do what’s good for you or not.”

Institutions such as the U.S. National Library of Medicine recommend avoiding sun lamps, tanning beds and tanning salons to avoid too much sun exposure.

Excess exposure to ultraviolet light increases the risk of getting melanoma and all other skin cancers. UV light can be exposed through the sun, sunlamps and tanning beds.

Ann-Braxton Mann, a junior majoring in telecommunication and film, related tanning bed use to smoking cigarettes.

“It has been proven how dangerous the tanning bed is for our skin and our health, yet millions of girls still go get in one every day,” she said. “It makes no sense at all. Why would you use something you know is only harming you every single time you use it?”

Students believe there are ways to decrease the number of melanoma cases in young females.

“Some possible ways to decrease melanoma cases could be to make it illegal to use the tanning bed with or without a parent’s permission until a certain age, like 18, or decrease the amount of time someone can lay in the tanning bed per appointment,” Mallory Mitchell said.

Melanoma is considered to be the worst form of skin cancer with death as a potential result. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, symptoms of melanoma include having a mole, sore, lump or growth on the skin. A key to treating the cancer is to recognize symptoms early.

“When I hear the numbers and ratios of young girls getting aggressive cancers it makes me sad to think it could have been prevented. I believe young women or young people in general have the mentality that bad things happen to others and never them,” Molly Mitchell said.

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