The country's largest group of pediatric doctors warned today that spending time in the tanning salon greatly increases the chances of getting melanoma, the most aggressive and deadly type of skin cancer. According to the group, melanoma is the second leading type of cancer among women in their 20s.
The new policy makes the American Academy of Pediatrics the latest medical group to campaign for increased regulation of tanning salons. In 2009, the World Health Organization classified tanning as a carcinogen and has also lobbied to bar teens from the popular practice. The American Medical Association and the American Academy of Dermatology support a ban as well.
"I would try and encourage people to love the skin they're in," Balk told AOL News in a phone interview today. She said the Academy is pushing for legislation that would bar teenagers under the age of 18 from using the tanning salons.
But the Indoor Tanning Association, which represents the tanning salon industry, says parents bear the ultimate responsibility for their children's health. John Overstreet, the association's executive director, noted that most states already require parental permission in tanning salons and said there is no need for increased regulation.
"I think parents can best determine whether or not their teenager should get a suntan," he told AOL News by phone today.
Overstreet said some studies suggest that tanning in moderation can actually be healthy, by boosting vitamin D levels in the body.
According to the Academy of Pediatrics, however, recommending that teens seek out tanning to achieve healthy levels of vitamin D, which is vital to bone health, is irresponsible. Instead, the authors said, teens should consider taking supplements. "Why should you expose yourself to a carcinogen if you can go outside or take a supplement?" Balk said.
Each year, about 8,500 Americans die from melanoma, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.