It would seem that in our modern age, most kids and teens would know that tanning beds are dangerous. I grew up in Los Angeles, a place where there are more tanning salons than Starbucks cafes and McDonald’s restaurants, according to one senator. When I was growing up, which actually wasn’t too long ago, underage girls in my high school flocked to the salons in droves despite the mounting evidence that they caused cancer. I attributed their tan happy behavior to sheer vanity and just a whimsical belief in immortality that is often quite robust in young people.
But after a recent congressional report, it may be that the tanning salons were actually lying to them about the health risks.
CBS News reports that congressional investigators pretended to be fair-skinned teenage girls when contacting 300 tanning salons to ask about health risks. And despite California banning underage tanning because of the huge jumps in melanoma rates, 90% of tanning salons told congressional investigators that there was no risk to their services. And then, a whopping 78% boasted that there were actually health benefits to using a tanning bed such as lupus and arthritis prevention. If that’s enough, 51% flat out denied that tanning beds cause skin cancer at all — a pretty basic fact by this point.
CBS News reports:
Studies show the risk of melanoma goes up 75 percent when tanning bed use begins before the age of 30.
Melanoma is the most common form of cancer among white women between 15 and 29. And the rate of melanoma in that age group has risen 50 percent since the 1980s, as tanning salons have proliferated.
California aside, 31 states have since passed restrictions on underage tanning that requires parents to come along with their kids for these tanning appointments. But even so, the fact that tanning salons are blatantly lying to customers, especially young customers, is a concerning trend if you’re a 16-year-old girl just trying to get the facts straight before homecoming. Tanning salons already target this age bracket with student specials and prom packages, hoping to lure in a steady clientele of young girls. Now they can add “lying” to their list of tactics as well.