The Sun Journal published a story May 18 about legislation currently pending that would ban youths under the age of 18 from using indoor tanning devices. Unfortunately, part of the story perpetuated the dangerous myth that there is any such thing as a “safe tan.”

Scientific research shows the use of indoor tanning devices before age 35 increases a person’s odds of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by a whopping 59 percent. This is due to the cumulative nature of UV radiation — making exposure to UV radiation particularly dangerous for young people. That is why so many leading health organizations, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the Dempsey Center and the Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics have joined together in strong support of that legislation.

There are a lot of pressures teenagers face today, but few of them are so easily mitigated as that of limiting tanning bed use to adults only. While steps have been taken to protect minors from the dangers of cigarettes and other carcinogens by placing restrictions on access, it is time to do the same for indoor tanning.

I wholeheartedly encourage Maine lawmakers not be fooled by the myth of a “safe tan,” and to support LD 889 when it comes to vote.

Maureen Higgins, Lewiston

Editor’s note: Higgins is cancer health outreach educator at the Dempsey Center in Lewiston.


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