Most Teens in the Dark About Tanning Bed Dangers

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Teens are ignoring persistent warnings about tanning.

    Only one in three American teenagers, including young women, know about the dangers of tanning beds, according to a poll conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology.

    Most teens think tanning beds are safer than being out in the sun. As summertime approaches, more North Texans are heading out into the sun and retreating indoors to get that "healthy" glow, with many not knowing it's not so healthy to lie in a tanning bed.

    Angie Riley's teenage sunburns inside tanning beds caught up to her 20 years later when she found a dark skin growth on her leg.

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    Teens are ignoring persistent warnings about tanning.

    "I kind of froze. Time stood still. I didn't know what to think. I was just scared to death," said Riley. "I wish they knew what I know now."

    A stage 4 melanoma diagnosis -- the worst form of skin cancer -- sent the mother and school teacher to the hospital.

    "I have lots of young women that come in way browner than they need to be," said Dr. Christy Riddle, a Baylor Plano dermatologist. "Tanning beds emit kind of a stronger amount of mostly UVA, but there's also UVB, ultraviolet light, and so you get a higher concentration over a shorter amount of time."

    Dermatologists said people who use tanning beds are at a 75 percent greater risk for skin cancer than those who don't. Riddle said tanning with artificial light is even more dangerous than natural sunlight.

    "Although the tan on their skin -- it's very pretty. Everybody loves that. But from where I'm standing now, so is watching my son graduate," said Riley.

    Riley said she may not have been around to see that had she not caught her cancer soon enough. She is now cancer free but has had some pre-cancerous moles removed.

    You should check your skin regularly for abnormal growths or changing moles. It's especially important if you're fair skinned, light eyed, or have a family history of skin cancer.