Sunday, February 7, 2010

Teens Behaving Dangerously: Climbing Into Bed with UV Rays

It's a frozen February in New England and winter tanners are reclining inside hot, glowing pods, soaking up ultraviolet radiation: the main cause of skin cancer. But the lag-time between that cause and its potentially deadly effect can be decades, an unfathomable forever to a teenager. Why forgo the adornment of a glowing tan today for fear of a fate that might or might not happen at some point in a distant future? As a rule, teens don't open retirement accounts and they don't worry about developing skin cancer.
A sixteen-year-old might act differently if the consequences were immediate; if, for example, one out of every hundred tanners emerged from the radiation chamber with instant melanoma. Still, the odds would be slim enough to disregard. 
When vain ladies of centuries past ingested arsenic to achieve a porcelain pallor, did they understand that they were swallowing poison? Did they knowingly expose themselves, the way tanners do today? And if they did know, would it have mattered? 
The Melanoma Foundation of New England is attempting to shatter teen apathy toward the dangers of ultraviolet rays by having skin cancer survivors share their stories at schools throughout New England. To learn more, visit the link above and click on "Your Skin is In."
State by State Indoor Tanning Restrictions for Minors