If you’re planning a trip to Mexico in the dead of winter, you should hit up a tanning salon to put down a “base” so that you can lounge on the beach while on vacation without getting a sunburn–at least, that was the logic once used to use to justify exposing ourselves to harmful UV rays in indoor tanning beds. Now we know better, right? Wrong, according to a new study that says 80% of tanning salons in Missouri spout this exact myth to their customers.
Unlike in some states, there are no indoor tanning regulations in Missouri, so researchers wanted to find out what was really going on in the tanning salons there. They surveyed a random selection of tanning salons throughout the state, and found that not only did 80% lie about that whole sunburn prevention thing; 43% also claimed that there are no health risks associated with indoor tanning, and 65% allowed 10 and 12 year old children to use their facilities. Not surprisingly, the study authors argue that regulations should be in place to keep customers better informed and protected from raising their risk of skin cancer.
Although tanning businesses aren’t regulated in Missouri state, the Food and Drug Administration does have a set of national guidelines and recommendations. Not surprisingly, the researchers found that most of the tanning salons were pretty bad at following them. “Despite increasing evidence that UVR exposure in indoor-tanning devices is associated with skin cancer, ocular damage, and premature photoaging,” they said, “tanning facilities in Missouri often misinformed consumers regarding these risks and lack of health benefits and inconsistently provided information about the Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines for tanning devices.”
Tanning salons elsewhere have also claimed that tanning protects against depression, and they’ve tried pretty hard to keep studies linking indoor tanning beds to melanoma under the radar. So it’s not that surprising that the American Academy of Dermatologists recently found that women are still woefully misguided about the “health benefits” of tanning.
Perhaps it’s time for more than just a recommended set of guidelines?