Too Much Time at Tanning Beds for Teens

Tanning Bed Operators Often Don't Restrict Teen Access to Tanning Beds

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on September 21, 2009

Sept. 21, 2009 -- A new study shows most tanning bed operators don’trestrict teens’ access to indoor tanning beds during the firstweek of use as recommended by the FDA.

The FDA recommends but does not require that indoor tanning bed operatorslimit teens to three or fewer tanning bed session in the first week. Butresearchers found only about 11% did so, and 71% of tanning bed operators saidthey would allow a teen to tan seven days a week.

"Exposure to UV radiation from indoor tanning lamps has been linked withboth melanoma and squamous cell cancer, and first exposurebefore age 35 years may increase melanoma risk by as much as 75 percent," writeresearcher Latrice C. Pichon, PhD, MPH, of San Diego State University andcolleagues in the Archives of Dermatology.

Researchers say the popularity of indoor tanning with adolescent girls inrecent years may also be behind a recent increase in melanoma rates among U.S.women aged 15-39.

Teen Tanning Bed Access

In the study, researchers surveyed 3,647 indoor tanning operators in theU.S. by phone. The caller posed as a prospective fair-skinned 15-year oldcustomer who had never tanned before.

The results showed about 87% of the tanning bed operators required teens toget parental consent, 14% required a parent to accompany the tanner, and 5%would not allow a 15-year-old to tan at all.

Researchers found facilities in states with laws regulating indoor tanningor youth access to tanning beds were much more likely to require parentalconsent than those without such laws. As of 2005, 28 states had laws regulatingindoor tanning and 21 had youth access restrictions.

The study also showed only about 11% of tanning bed operators limited teensto the FDA-recommended three or fewer sessions the first week. The averagenumber of tanning bed sessions allowed per week was six and 71% said they wouldallow a teen to tan seven days a week.

Researchers say more states should consider laws restricting teen access toindoor tanning beds to more forcefully educate teens and parents about the realdangers of indoor tanning.

Show Sources


Pichon, L. Archives of Dermatology, September 2009; vol 145: pp 997-1002.

News release, American Medical Association.

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