Dangers Of Tanning Beds: How Can We Protect Our Kids?

tanning bed

By now, it’s not a secret to hear that overexposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is a serious health risk for people of all ages. In the last 30 years alone, overexposure to ultraviolet radiation has greatly raised melanoma risk in America– and tanning salons are at the center of it.

According to a new policy from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), called “Ultraviolet Radiation: A Hazard to Children and Adolescents,” Americans’ burning desire to get some color at tanning salons is a big reason why skin cancer has exponentially risen over the past few decades. In fact, one analysis of tanning booths placed them in the riskiest category for causing cancer, right next to cigarettes and arsenic.

But that doesn’t stop many parents from keeping their pale princesses from becoming pruny peasants.

“Many states require parental consent for tanning under a certain age, and a lot of parents say yes and give permission without thinking about it,” says Sophie Balk, MD, the lead author of the AAP report. “What many parents don’t realize is that 5 to 10 years down the road, their child might get melanoma, and that the melanoma could be fatal,” says Dr. Balk, who is also an attending pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York.

So, what can parents do to help keep their child’s skin healthy for the long haul?

Talk About Consequences

When it comes to tanning dangers, cancer leads the way as the most potent and destructive. However, there are other tanning outcomes that could make a bigger impression on young teenagers. “Some kids think tans look healthier,” Dr. Balk says. “In these cases, tell your child that his or her skin will age much more rapidly and they will have wrinkles and saggy skin sooner than people who don’t tan.” Furthermore, one study shows that knowing that fact can alter the poor tanning habits of many tanners.

Redirect Your Child

Many of the youth today suffer from a tanning addiction, Dr. Balk says. Tanning alleviates stress and allows them to feel more self-confident. But parents should resist the temptation to pamper their kids’ addiction and instead suggest healthier options.

“Try to help them find other ways to feel better, such as with yoga or relaxation techniques,” Dr. Balk indicates. Trying a new sport like running or swimming can be great, too, because exercise can elevate a person’s endorphin levels. “I’m a big fan of community service for teens. Giving back is such a good way to feel good about yourself, and teens need plenty of that,” she says.

Don’t Forget The Sun

Aside from tanning beds, the sun’s ultraviolet rays can be pretty harmful, too. Decrease your child’s risk for delayed onset skin problems because of the choices he/she makes today by having your child wear protective clothing and sunglasses when out in the sun and applying (and reapplying) sunscreen throughout the afternoon. In addition, you should try timing activities before or after high levels of heat exposure during the day.

By installing these behaviors in our kids when they’re young, they’ll be more likely to carry these beliefs throughout their adult lives– and hopefully pass the knowledge onto their kids, too.


Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Lindsey Turner

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