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updated: 5/3/2013 10:50 AM

Find safer option for teens who tan

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Underage tanning has become a very serious issue. More than 30 states have banned teens under the age of 18 in the use of tanning beds. I feel very strongly about this issue because a few years ago our family friend died from skin cancer. She started her use of tanning salons when she was 17, and now she is no longer with us.

What parents would risk their child's health just so their son or daughter can "be ready for summer?" Studies have shown that when a teen starts tanning before turning 20, he or she is more likely to develop an addiction with tanning than people who start after they are 20. The American Academy of Dermatology states, "Frequent, intentional exposure to UV light may lead to an addiction to tanning."

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It's also expensive. Tanning memberships cost around $60 per month -- $720 per year. Plus, most tanners use a tanning lotion at about $30 per bottle. Tans usually fade within a week, so it's very hard to maintain that year-round glow.

Now for the most important issue: skin cancer and other physical health issues. The academy says, "Studies have found a 75 percent increase in the risk of melanoma in those who have been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning."

There is a safe alternative, however: sunless tanners. Spray tans are costly but professional. Or, there are lotions and gels you can get at drugstores which are much cheaper. Either way, there is pretty much no health risk in these options.

Underage tanning should be banned for teens under eighteen because of the risk of developing an addiction, the high expenses, and the crucial medical issues. For me and many others, death is a big price to pay for a "healthy" glow.

Bianca DiVincenzo

Prospect Heights

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