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A New Study Finds That an Age Restriction On Tanning Beds Would Save Lives

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You need to be 18 to buy cigarettes and 21 to drink alcohol in most parts of the United States, yet there's currently no age restriction for going to a tanning bed. And if you think a little indoor sun-bathing isn't as bad for you as smoking or drinking, guess again. Visiting tanning beds before the age of 35 increases your risk of developing melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) by a whopping 59 percent, a number that only goes up the more you tan. And somehow, despite the fact that melanoma rates have risen in recent years, people are still tanning.

Enter the FDA. Last December, they proposed a ban to restrict indoor tanning for anyone under age 18. While that law has yet to go into effect, a recent study conducted by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that it would, in fact, save thousands of life (we'd like to insert a sarcastic "duh" here, but the research is obviously still important). The study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, estimated that this kind of age restriction could reduce overall indoor tanning by 20 percent, and, more importantly, prevent close to 62,000 cases of melanoma and nearly 7,000 melanoma deaths (it would also save $342.9 million dollars in treatment costs). Those are big numbers, and they don't lie. "This research concretely demonstrates the potential health benefits of an under-18 age restriction for indoor tanning," said board-certified dermatologist Abel Torres, M.D., president of the American Academy of Dermatology, in a press release about the study. "Moreover, we hope these dramatic figures remind the public, especially young people, to stay out of indoor tanning beds."

The bottom line: There's no denying that an age restriction on indoor tanning will save lives. But, despite the fact that the proposed law and study are based on those under 18, no one should ever visit a tanning bed. Is a tan really worth risking your life for? Let us answer that for you: NO. Get your faux glow out of a bottle and stay out of the tanning salon. End of story.

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