Tanning for the prom risky for teen girls

March 28, 2012 at 8:33 PM
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MAYWOOD, Ill., March 28 (UPI) -- For many teenage girls, getting ready for prom includes not only shopping for a dress and shoes, but also trips to tanning booths, a U.S. dermatologist said.

Dr. Rebecca Tung, director of the Division of Dermatology at Loyola University Health System in Maywood, Ill., said nearly 70 percent of tanning salon patrons are Caucasian girls and women, primarily ages 16-29, and many go before the prom.

"Indoor tanning is a legitimate health problem among this population," Tung said in a statement. "When a person visits a tanning booth, the body releases endorphins. These chemicals produce the same feelings of euphoria or well-being that entice drug addicts and alcoholics."

This may explain why the indoor tanning business is booming, with about 28 million people visit U.S. tanning salons each year despite the risk for wrinkles and the dangers of ultraviolet radiation. UV radiation causes approximately 90 percent of skin cancers, and the risk for melanoma increases by 75 percent, if you tan indoors, Tung said.

"People are dying from their obsession with looking tan despite the fact that safe alternatives do exist to get that sun-kissed look," Tung said. "We have to treat excessive tanning like any other addiction and educate young women and men about its dangers. At the state and national level, we as dermatologists continue to push for legislation to ban this potentially deadly practice for young people."

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