Mom, daughter advocate for tanning bed ban for teens

By KBJR News 1

April 4, 2014 Updated Apr 4, 2014 at 7:55 PM CDT

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) - 17-year-old Kristina Green, like many girls her age, never thought twice about using tanning beds.

"I liked to use them a lot before, like, Spring break, or Sweetheart or whatever," said Green.

That was until her mother got involved with the American Cancer Society. Now the two are advocating a ban on tanning bed use for Minnesota teens.

"I've used a tanning bed in the past as has my daughter and again if the awareness is out, people don't know about the dangers, of tanning, we haven't been told that tanning beds cause cancer and so I'm here hoping my daughter can be an advocate for other young people saying, hey, tanning beds are dangerous, let's look at that," said Melissa Kadlec with the American Cancer Society.

The push for new laws comes on the heels of a troubling study that found a large percentage of teen girls in Minnesota use tanning beds, increasing their risk for the third most common type of skin cancer.

"Melanoma is the one that gets our attention because melanoma is a cancer that can kill you," said Dr. Heather Buchholz, a dermatologist with St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth.

Dr. Buchholz says using tan beds can increase your risk of cancer by 59 percent. If that's not enough, research shows tanning beds are carcinogenic to humans.

"It just takes one intense exposure, one blistering sunburn to greatly increase your risks of melanoma," Dr. Buchholz said.

Lawmakers hope a ban will lower that risk.

The Minnesota Skin Cancer Prevention Act bans teens under the age of 18 from using tanning beds. It also holds tanning facilities accountable. Businesses could be fined up to $250 for violating the law.

Dr. Buchholz says there are better, safer alternatives.

"If they wanted to look tan for prom, or whatever occasion, a spray tan is fine, using sunless tanning products that with cream or locations, that's fine, but tanning bed use certainly has long term risks," she said.

It's advice Kristina is now sharing with her friends before it's too late.

"Kids like to be tan. They want to be tan. I like try to look tan, but I try to use makeup, cause that works and now I know the danger," she said.

The proposed measure has reached both the House and Senate where it's awaiting a vote.

Written by Kevin Jacobsen
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