High school girls here use tanning beds at a dangerous rate

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Upstate Options Magazine
Another reason to stay away: This is the creepy-looking inside of a tanning bed.
This time of year, you're as likely to see a natural tan on a home-bound Minnesotan as you are a bronze on a polar bear. Eleventh-grade girls, however, are still trying to fight nature.

More than one-third of Minnesota girls in 11th grade reported tanning indoors in the last year, according to data released today by the Minnesota Department of Health. More than half of those girls hit the tanning bed 10 or more times.

"It strikes me as high," says Michelle Strangis, cancer policy coordinator with the MDH, of the new numbers. "Indoor tanning is a very risky behavior. Very risky. To have that percentage of 11th graders using indoor tanning facilities is very concerning."

See Also:
- Indoor Tanning Association blames Mayo cancer findings on your pale skin


The data comes from the Minnesota Student Survey, the tool that asks middle and high schoolers statewide about issues ranging from bullying to exercise, and offers some answers about what it's like to be a teenager in Minnesota.

For the first time in 2013, the survey also asked students about tanning. The MDH decided to include the question after seeing rates of melanoma -- the most serious skin cancer -- increase among young women about 5 percent every year for 15 years. That increase means that over that 15-year period, the number of young women getting diagnosed each year has doubled.

"We've become very concerned about prevention of melanoma in this young population," explains Strangis. "Minnesota is a state that never had this data, and this came from thinking about important steps that we can take to prevent or at least stop the increase in melanoma among young women. We now have hard data."

The survey results show that as Minnesota teenagers move through high school, their use of tanning beds jumps dramatically.

For white 8th graders, just 2 percent of men and 6 percent of women reported indoor tanning. By 9th grade, the numbers jumped to 3 percent and 13 percent.

In 11th grade, the prevalence was all the way up to 5 percent  for men, and 34 percent for women. Among non-white students, only about 8 percent across all three grades reported using a tanning device.

Across the country, states that use a different, national survey to ask students about their indoor tanning practices found similar numbers: 29 percent of all white female high school students reported indoor tanning. For the country's 11th grade age group, the numbers were even higher: 31.1 percent for 16-year-old women, and a startling 39.3 percent for 17-year-old women.

Despite the industry's best efforts to reassure customers that tanning is safe, doctors have long been crowing about its dangers. Beds deliver 10 to 15 times more UV rays than sunlight does, and it's that UV radiation that causes melanomas.

To raise awareness about the dangers of tanning, the MDH is sponsoring a video challenge. It's put out the call for teens to make an educational video, and is offering two $1,000 cash prizes to the winners.

"We want to encourage students to re-think that behavior, and create a new norm for what is healthy-looking skin," Strangis says. "That's your natural skin. That's what's healthy."

-- Tips or comments? Reach Olivia LaVecchia by email or on Twitter at @olavecchia


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16 comments
Kayla Fuller
Kayla Fuller

Kyle, stop trying to make quiche happen. It's not going to happen.

midwestexplorer81
midwestexplorer81 topcommenter

Teenage girls would put 1/2 inch holes through their ears and spikes in their faces if they thought it made them look good. Oh wait......


As with most issues this is a parent problem. Not enough parents have common sense.

Reed Osell
Reed Osell

As long as my tax dollars don't have to pay for their future cancer treatments, tan away.

Jessica Ross
Jessica Ross

Same amount if not more used them back when I was in 11th grade in 1998

TC4L
TC4L

Guy here.  Always found it unattractive.  Would prefer a pale skinned woman over an obviously fake tan any day.  Hot 18 yr old tans and smokes.  Has the skin of a 60 year old at 25.

Cräig Benttimäki
Cräig Benttimäki

Idiotic parents letting their kids roast themselves. It looks cheesy in the short term, looks like dried up leather in the long term and is deadly.

Angela Salzl
Angela Salzl

why is this constantly brought up? we get it tanning is bad...... but if someone decides they'd perfer tan skin over healthy skin in the long run that is their business!

Jill Munn Blesener
Jill Munn Blesener

Disgusting, your teenage years are such a pivotal time to take care of your skin. Your choices now can seriously effect your future, it just isn't worth it.

ajlalk3
ajlalk3 topcommenter

Tanning beds are great. Now I can easily tell if someone is vain, shallow, self absorbed and egotistical just by looking at their orange Jack-O-Lantern complexion.

_Joe_
_Joe_

Not when you're under 18 it's not.  Children don't really understand the long term impacts their choices can have.

_Joe_
_Joe_

@ajlalk3

This.

There is nothing more disgusting than Oompa-Loompa orange on a person.

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