Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I'm The Mean Mom Who Won't Let Her Teenage Daughter Go To The Tanning Bed

image from Can Stock Photo

Around our town it's pretty much common practice for many of the teenage girls (and boys and even many of the moms) to go to the tanning bed. Especially around spring break or prom time, it seems like everyone is going to the tanning bed. It's just the thing to do. My daughter is a freshman in high school and quite a few of her friends use tanning beds. We're a family of fair-skinned folks and I understand her wanting that same sun-kissed, golden complexion as her friends. I will confess that I have used tanning beds in the past; not on a regular or long-term basis, but, nonetheless, I went. But, as I read more and more about the high risk of skin cancer associated with tanning bed use, I have made a firm decision that it's not something I want myself or my kids to do. And, now my daughter thinks I'm the mean mom, the only mom on earth, who will not let her daughter go to the tanning bed. (keep in mind she's almost 15 so she tends to exaggerate and be dramatic)

Here are a few of the statistics I came across while reading up on this subject...

From WebMD Health News; May 27, 2010:
Regular use of tanning beds triples or even quadruples the risk of developing melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, new research finds. The study is the largest of its kind to examine whether indoor tanning causes skin cancer, and it comes as federal regulators are considering new rules designed to limit the use of commercial tanning by teens. Compared to people who had never used a tanning bed, indoor tanners had a 74% increased risk for melanoma.

The strongest association was seen for melanomas originating on the trunk, which, in women at least, is an area of the body generally exposed to UV rays only during tanning.

From The Skin Cancer Foundation:
Recent studies provide evidence linking indoor tanning bed use to melanoma and reinforce the declaration by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that indoor tanning devices are carcinogenic to humans.

Tanning machines emit dangerous ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and frequent tanners using new high-pressure sunlamps may receive as much as 12 times the annual ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation they would receive from regular sun exposure.

Tanning lamps and beds emit harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which is linked with a higher risk of all forms of skin cancer, including potentially deadly melanomas. On average, indoor tanners are 74 percent more like to develop melanomas than non-tanners. They are also 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.

From Consumer Reports/ Health; May 4, 2011:
More than two million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with some form of skin cancer each year, and melanoma, the most deadly type, has increased 4 percent a year for the past three decades—especially in young white women and girls. “Most young women with melanoma are developing it on their torso, which may be the result of high-risk tanning behaviors such as indoor tanning,” said Ronald L. Moy, M.D., a dermatologist and president of the AAD, in a statement.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the World Health Organization have declared ultraviolet radiation-from the sun or tanning beds and lamps—a known carcinogen. That's because indoor tanning can increase a person's melanoma risk by 75 percent. While most girls and women know that tanning can lead to skin cancer, many are not doing anything about it. A quarter of the 32 percent of tanning-bed users in the age group tan indoors at least every week, on average.

I don't know about you, but those are pretty alarming statistics to me. Obviously, whether or not to allow your teenager to use a tanning bed is a personal choice for each parent. But, for me, it's a no-brainer and a risk I just don't want to take. So, even though my daughter will beg and plead with me, I will continue to be the "mean mom" who keeps her teenage daughter out of the tanning bed. I will continue to teach my daughter about the risks that go along with using tanning beds and insist on regular use of sunscreen. I will be that mom even though my daughter won't like it. And, hopefully one day she will thank me.

How do you feel about the subject? I would love to hear your thoughts...


Paula Parrish said...

Hello Kari,
I am totally with you Kari; I feel that you have made the right decision for your daughter. Way to go, MOM. We have 3 children over the age of 16 and I have been given the honor (such and honor, right?) of being crowned the “Meanest Mom” many times. Now that our oldest daughter is a Mommy she understands Motherhood a lot better now, a real eye opener. Thanks for sharing!
Smiles, Paula

septembermom said...

Kari, I'm on your team when it comes to this issue. We're super fair here too. And those statistics are very alarming. It's a shame that all these beautiful young girls think that a tan will make them prettier. They are gorgeous naturally. Especially your kids!!

Let's start a Mean Mom parade. My oldest son is mad at me most of the time based on our "discussions" about what he should do. Isn't it fun parenting teens??