Tanning Salons Mislead Teens, Congressional Probe Finds
Many tanning salons are downplaying the health risks associated with indoor tanning while claiming that time in a tanning bed offers an array of health benefits, according to an investigative report from Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Committee investigators, posing as fair-skinned teenage girls, called 300 tanning salons across the country, and found that 90% said that the use of tanning beds did not pose a health risk. When pressed about skin cancer risks, some salon employees said the link to indoor tanning was "hype" or "a big myth."
"I think it validates what we’ve been saying as dermatologists for many years," said Dr. Bruce A. Brod of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. "Unfortunately, the indoor tanning industry does not responsibly regulate [itself]."
Dr. Brod said he’s not surprised by the report’s findings. "I hear those stories all the time" from patients who have used tanning salons, he said.
The American Academy of Dermatology Association called on Congress and the states to better regulate indoor tanning. In a statement, the AADA said states should follow California’s example and ban indoor tanning among young adults under the age of 18. The organization also urged Congress to pass H.R. 1676, the Tanning Bed Cancer Control Act, which instructs the Food and Drug Administration to reexamine the way it regulates tanning beds.
The congressional investigation was requested by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D- N.Y.), sponsor of H.R. 1676, along with other top Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The Indoor Tanning Association (ITA) criticized the way the investigation was conducted. Association spokesman John Overstreet said the study was flawed because it was constructed by people who already have an unfavorable opinion of the industry. It was also "unfair" for committee investigators to rely on information given over the phone to undercover investigators.