Teens who use tanning beds increase their risk of deadly melanoma skin cancer risk.

More and more teens are using tanning beds, such as in about a million visits daily in the U.S.

Using a tanning bed before age 35 increases risk of melanoma skin cancer by up to 75 percent, says a study reported in the March 2007 International Journal of Cancer.

Does your teen use a tanning bed? 

The most significant known risk factor for this cancer is the unprotected exposure of the skin to ultraviolet light – essentially the modus operandi of a tanning bed,” says George Hollenberg, MD, a dermatopathology specialist in Plainview, NY, and former medical director of Acupath Laboratories.

Melanoma rates in the U.S. continue to rise, relative to the increasing population, and these increased rates have particularly occurred in children and young adults.

Dr. Hollenberg says, “Melanoma diagnoses are increasing at a rate of 3 percent each year for children ages 10-19, and more rapidly for young women in their 20s and 30s.” Melanoma is the leading cause of death for women 25-29.

And here’s more frightening news, from the American Academy of Dermatology: The Academy predicts that by 2025, melanoma may be the # 1 cause of cancer death for Americans. Even naturally dark people can get melanoma.

As a responsible parent, you certainly care about your teen’s teeth; his or her posture; and perhaps you’ve ordered your kids to eat their vegetables. Why not include melanoma awareness in your parenting program?

Over two dozen states actually restrict access by teenagers to tanning salons.

This restriction ranges from the requirement that teens have parental consent to use the tanning bed, to absolute prohibition of teens using tanning facilities.

It’s tough to make a stubborn teen start wearing sunblock for the very first time in his or her life.

But don’t let that stop you from enforcing its use. If your kids are very young, you have a far better chance of ingraining the sunblock habit into them.

Every so often, I see very young children with sunburns. This is inexcusable.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, only one in seven high school students reported using sunblock rated at least SPF 15.

You make your children brush their teeth every morning and every night before bed. Well, every morning make them put on sunblock, or, put it on them yourself.

If you require your kids to do yard work, send them out before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m.

Yes, you need to get serious about this, because the National Cancer Institute says that melanoma is one of the fastest-spreading cancers.

How familiar are you with the moles on your kids’ or teens’ skin?

How familiar are THEY with them? I have two young nephews and a niece who are full of moles.

All three are dark from spending huge amounts of time in the sun without sunblock. Having over 100 moles is a significant risk factor for melanoma.

My 14-year-old nephew has a ton of moles on his bronzed back, and he’ll undoubtedly acquire more before age 20.

Your teens should be familiar with their moles, so that if one ever starts changing, they will know it.

Melanoma can also arise from non-mole areas of the skin. If you find a suspicious growth on your child or teen’s skin, don’t wait:

Take him or her to a dermatologist and insist on a biopsy.

Dr. Hollenberg passed away in 2013.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.