Tanning remains popular despite the risks
Tanning is getting it from all sides these days.
Howard County has banned minors from tanning beds. Baltimore County considered it and the state recently began requiring parental consent for those under 18. As part of federal heatlh care reform, the government plans to begin taxing tanning beds in July.
But tanning devotees told me they are not put off. Read my full story in The Sun.
"There are worse things you can do, like smoke or drink or do drugs," said 20-year-old Melissa Halecki, who has been coming to the Sunset Tanning Salon in Pasadena five days a week for a couple of months. "This is therapeutic for me. On that 80-degree day a couple of weeks ago, everyone was out with their shorts and their white legs, but mine were tan, and it felt good."
Women of all ages said it felt good to be in the tanning beds and it felt good after. They tan in place of shopping, getting massages or vacationing. And they said they knew the risks.
Experts say not everyone who tans will get skin cancer, you're just increasing your odds -- by a lot if you're young and tan over a life-time. And by even more if you burn.
Michele Lanasa, owner of Sunset, said the business has already suffered from the economy and the weather. People dont come in when it's way too cold or way to sunny.
But she and her regular customers said adults should be able to make their own choices. And she's careful about carding kids and warning the adults, too. In fact, she's even a fan of the sunless tanning lotions.
For now, adults face no restrictions, only warnings and those taxes. The war of words seems to stem from a World Health Organization agency that recently upped tanning beds to the highest category for carcinogens. And another study published in the Archives of Dermatology recently has also gotten a lot of attention. It likened the repeated use of tanning beds to an addiction.
Salon industry people say there are benefits such as new machines that don't burn. They also say that the base tan protects people from burning. But experts say all the beds damage skin and there's really no such thing as a base tan that protects you from skin cancer.
What do you think? Dangerous? Not more than smoking or drinking?
Baltimore Sun photo of Michele Lanasa at Sunset Tanning Salon in Pasadena/Amy Davis