Banning Teens Who Are 14 Years Old and Younger from Using Tanning Salons is Highly Cost-Effective, a New Study Finds

Defective Medical Devices
Tanning Beds and Skin Cancer

By Lynn Shapiro, Staff Writer

Banning teens who are 14 years old and younger from frequenting tanning salons-- and exposing themselves to cancer-causing ultraviolet rays--could save thousands of lives and millions of dollars in treatment costs, according to a new Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) study.

Last year, the FDA proposed a ban on indoor tanning by teenagers younger than 18. At least 12 states and the District of Columbia have such laws in place.

“[The new] research concretely demonstrates the potential health benefits of an under-18 age restriction for indoor tanning," said Dr. Abel Torres, president of the AADA, in a press release.

In the new study, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), concluded the age restriction could prevent approximately 62,000 melanoma cases, and more than 6,700 melanoma deaths over the lifetime of Americans who are currently age 14 and younger. 

The savings in melanoma treatment costs would total approximately $343 million, the researchers said.

“An age restriction on indoor tanning could be a significant step forward in the fight against skin cancer,” says study author Gery P. Guy, PhD, MPH, a health economist in the CDC Division of Cancer Prevention and Control’s Epidemiology and Applied Research Branch.

Indoor tanning salons expose users to harmful ultraviolet radiation, the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer, yet they’re popular among teenagers, as well as adults. 

The AADA study found that using an indoor tanning bed before age 35 can increase one’s risk of melanoma--the deadliest form of skin cancer--by 59 percent, and the risk increases with each visit.

A total ban on indoor tanning could potentially prevent 202,000 melanoma cases and 23,000 melanoma deaths, and save more than $1 billion in melanoma treatment costs, the study says.

Obama Tax and Potential for Addiction

Calling tanning beds medical devices, President Obama placed a 10 percent tax on all tanning bed usage, as part of the Affordable Care Act, a tax the tanning industry called “detrimental to their businesses.”(

Meanwhile, a New York Times article says people who frequent tanning salons experience the same jolt in brain activity as drug abusers.

These findings, which appear in the journal Addiction Biology, may help explain why so many Americans continue to frequent tanning salons, despite the risks of: skin cancer, premature aging and wrinkles. (

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