Salt Lake City – The Utah Department of Health recently published an article in the Journal of Skin Cancer regarding the effectiveness of mandated restrictions on youth tanning across the state. Passed in 2012, Senate Bill 41 requires all minors to have parental consent or a physician’s note each time they visit an indoor tanning salon.
An evaluation of Utah students in grades 8, 10, and 12 who reported using an indoor tanning device in the year before the law went into effect and again the year after suggests the restrictions contributed to a significant reduction in self-reported indoor tanning. The 2013 rate of 7.7% is a 36 percent drop from the 2011 rate of 12%.
Exposure to ultraviolet radiation, including that from indoor tanning devices, is known to cause melanoma. Utah’s 2006-2010 melanoma incidence is 61% higher than the national rate, at 31 per 100,000 people and 19.3 per 100,000 people, respectively. Using indoor tanning devices during the teenage and young adult years significantly increases the risk of developing melanoma, which is one of the most common types of cancer among older teens and young adults.
The evaluation also analyzed characteristics of Utah teens who continued to use indoor tanning devices in 2013 despite the more restrictive regulations. It found that teen girls, older teens, and teens who use tobacco and alcohol were the most likely to continue tanning. Data were collected through the Utah Department of Human Services’ 2011 and 2013 Prevention Needs Assessment surveys.
While results of the study should be interpreted with caution due to limitations of the survey data and the potential effect of other ongoing sun safety campaigns, the findings do suggest that passage of the more restrictive regulations played a role in significantly reducing teen tanning in a relatively short period of time. Efforts to enforce tanning regulations and behavioral risk interventions may further reduce the numbers of teens who report using indoor tanning devices.
The article may be accessed online at http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jsc/2014/839601/.
For more information on skin cancer prevention and education, visit www.ucan.cc.
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