Health Officials: tanning beds put teens at higher risk for melanoma

By KBJR News 1

January 18, 2014 Updated Jan 18, 2014 at 10:28 PM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The number of melanoma cases spiking across the country is being called an epidemic.

Tanning may be a popular trend, but for many teenage girls it could be leading to serious health problems.

In the dark days of winter, it's a quick fix to brighten your appearance and lift your spirits.

"It helps with depression, especially with the lack of vitamin D in Wisconsin, eczema, psoriasis," said AJ's Tanning manager, Amber Ball.

For Amber Ball, manager of AJ's Tanning, she sees a range of reasons people stop in to get a boost of vitamin D.

"A lot of people come in for like proms, we get slammed for proms, Christmas parties, New Year's, Spring Break is a big one, everyone wants to go on their Spring Break looking tan," explained Ball.

But a study released this week by the Minnesota Department of Health shows the rate of melanoma doubling in the past fifteen years in teenage girls, and tanning beds may be to blame.

"We are seeing more and more cases of younger patients coming in with skin cancer, it's very scary," said Lizzy Morrison, Essentia Health.

Lizzy Morrison with the Dermatology department at Essentia Health in Duluth says the long-term risks of indoor tanning outweigh the short-term results.

"They are horribly damaging to the skin, I mean I highly recommend no one using a tanning bed," said Morrison.

Morrison says there are safer alternatives to get that golden glow in the dead of winter.

"We can get a great sunshine glow from going to get a spray tan there's great gradual tans that you can use on your skin, there's plenty of different options to get that glow."

It's an agreeable option that Ball says has lower risks, but delivers the same results.

"You can do the airbrush tanning which is a great instant color for you to get. It's no health risk involved because it's just a nice natural formula that you can use," said Ball.

So wherever the decision falls, one thing is suggested, keeping a close eye on the size, and color of moles and other marks.

"It's always good to be conscious and have someone looking at some of those areas of say your scalp, ears, other areas that you don't necessarily get to check it's good to have that annual visit," said Morrison.

According to the state health department, people are 59% more at risk of developing melanoma through indoor tanning.

Melanoma is the second most common cancer among 15 to 29 year old women.

According to the American Melanoma Foundation the ABCD rule can help you spot the symptoms of melanoma including: A for Asymmetry, one half is different than the other half. B for Border Irregularity,
the edges are notched, uneven, or blurred. C for Color, the color is uneven, shades of brown, tan, and black are present. D for diameter, diameter is greater than 6 millimeters.

Written for the web by Jeremy Brickley
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