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Florida Sees Increase in Tanning Facilities and Melanoma

A recent study sought to classify indoor tanning facilities in order to “facilitate more directed health or regulatory interventions.” At the time of the study, October 2012, 1261 facilities were licensed for indoor tanning. There was 1 tanning salon per 15,113 people and 1.16 tanning facilities per every 50 square miles.  In contrast, there were only 868 McDonald’s and 693 CVS stores.  This marks a dramatic increase in tanning facilities, making it one of the fastest growing industries in Florida.   

Dr. Robert Kirsner, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine dermatology professor, expressed his shock, “Even in the Sunshine State, where we get plenty of exposure, the beds are proliferating.” Tanning beds are one of the leading causes of skin cancer and at least one million people are estimated to use them on a daily basis.  People under 35 years old are at the highest risk, yet 40% of the users are teenage girls.

While tanning facilities are on the rise, so are cases of melanoma.  According to the study, “Florida has the second highest incidence of melanoma in the country and does not restrict tanning device use by age.”  Many indoor tanning businesses are operating within residential facilities, 94% of which offer complimentary tanning with residence.  They are marketed to college students, who fall within the highest risk age demographic, and only limit use to one visit per day.  In addition, they are often associated with “wellness” services, which falsely advertise a product that is detrimentally linked to skin cancer.

Legislation was proposed earlier this year to ban the use of tanning beds in Florida for children under 16, and require parental consent for people between 16 and 18 years old.  Unfortunately the bill did not pass. 

Further research will examine the impact of indoor tanning facility type, geographic location, and rate of skin cancer in order to regulate health interventions.  It will also take into account regulating false advertising and warrant complimentary sessions. 

Sources: 1, 2

Image: Noe Alfaro

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