Dermatologists push for ban on teen tanning in Texas

April 10, 2013 4:55:07 PM PDT
The Skin Cancer Foundation says one tanning session increases the risk of melanoma by 20 percent. Doctors are seeing a spike in melanoma in young women, many of whom tan, so Texas dermatologists are pushing for a new ban on teen tanning.

Kallye Mitchell tanned for 8 years, especially when she was competing in the Miss Texas USA pageant. She didn't stop, until she had two pre-skin cancers at 23.

"I have 2 scars -- one on my leg one on my arm. They're not pretty, they're never going away. but it proves to me they saved my life," Mitchell said.

Taylor Patton tanned in high school. Then when she was 18, she got a phone call.

"He told me I had melanoma. And I said, 'What is that?' And he said, 'It's skin cancer.' And I was in shock," Patton said.

"A tan is your body's response to UV damage. So there is no safe tan," Dr. Paul Friedman said.

Dr. Friedman is one of a number of dermatologists who want to ban teens from tanning in salons. Right now, teens under 18 have to get a parent's permission to tan. But doctors say that hasn't been strong enough and the ban is safer.

"What the opposition is saying is that we don't have the right to nanny or so call police these young children, and that's where I disagree. I believe we have an obligation to protect our youth from these dangerous tanning beds," Dr. Friedman said.

Scott Hendrickson owns Eclipse Sunless Tanning. He doesn't think the bill should pass yet he already refuses to let anyone under 18 tan.

"You should be an adult before you decide that so we just avoid the topic all together by just setting our age limit that way," Hendrickson said.

Mitchell says she'll be looking over her shoulder, worried about the next skin cancer for the rest of her life.

"It's scary, it's sad. I wish I'd listened to my mom when I was younger," she said.

The proposed ban on teen tanning under age 18 is expected to be introduced in the Texas Senate in the next few weeks.

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