Even as Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes to a close, ACS CAN will keep working year-round, across the country and with both state and federal lawmakers, to advance the public policies we know will reduce the burden of breast cancer.
Minnesota Taking Steps to Protect Teens from Indoor Tanning
Megan Ramey began tanning in her teens because she wanted that healthy glow before vacations and prom. It was easy to tan because there was a salon at the end of her street. I knew tanning could cause skin cancer, but I thought it would be a simple lesion that would be taken off and that would be the end of it. No big deal, said Megan Ramey, a 25-year-old cancer survivor from White Bear Lake, Minn. Megan was diagnosed with stage III melanoma at age 20 by her local physician when she was home on a break from college. In addition to removing the irritated mole on her hip, she had to have a wide section of skin taken off and a full lymph node dissection. Once the cancer was removed, her doctor prescribed a weekly injection of Sylatron to help prevent recurrence. She'll be on that drug for the rest of her life. Megan has made it her mission to share her story to warn other teens, and she is hoping her experience will convince lawmakers to support a bill that would prohibit those younger than 18 from using indoor tanning beds.
Today, State Senator Chris Eaton and State Representative JoAnn Ward introduced the Tan Free Teens Act, a bill that will do just that. The bill introduction follows the release of Minnesota Department of Health data showing as many as 1 in 3 of the state's teen girls report using tanning beds in the last year with half of those going ten times or more. As a father of a daughter and grandfather to a beautiful granddaughter, that is a terrifying statistic. And it's even more alarming when you couple it with the fact that people who use sunbeds before age 35 increase their lifetime risk of melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer, by 59 percent. That's why 33 states currently regulate the use of tanning facilities by minors and 17 states are working on similar laws this year. These laws work. A study published earlier this month in the American Journal of Public Health found that girls in states with any tanning laws were 30 percent less likely to tan inside. Furthermore, girls that live in states that set an age limit for tanning, require parental permission for teens under the age limit and require salons to post warning signs, limit advertising or follow other regulations were 42 percent less likely to tan inside. These state laws are making strides to protect our children from a grueling battle with skin cancer, one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in 15-29 year olds. I'd like my story to be a cautionary tale to other young women. Tanning is risky. It's just not worth it, Megan said. We're committed to working with the Minnesota legislature to pass this legislation so more women like Megan avoid life-threatening battles with melanoma.