Nationwide crackdown on tanning beds as government issues new measures

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - It’s a decision Bakersfield mother, Christi Warkentin now regrets.

“I didn’t use sun screen. I didn’t do anything. I just laid in the tanning bed from tanning bed to tanning bed,” she said.

She started using tanning beds at the age of 15, at least twice a day.

“I did not think that would do anything, especially the tanning beds because they tell you all the time and say oh that’s okay, it’s good for you because of the rays or the sun is different, not true at all,” said Warkentin.

Two years ago she was diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest of skin cancers.  Just recently, the FDA announced tanning beds must now carry a warning label cautioning anyone under 18 not to use them.

“I think that’s a good idea, but honestly I think they should all be shut down and that’s my opinion just from what I’ve been through. I don’t think teenagers should be able to use them,” she said.

The indoor tanning association calls the warning labels “excessive,” and says their products used properly are safe.

“We as dermatologists have been trying to deal with this issue for the last twenty years,” said Dr. Darrell Rigel of the American Academy of Dermatology.

A new study shows people who use tanning beds have a much greater risk of getting melanoma.  A separate study finds, tanning indoors increases the risk of melanoma by 59 percent.

“It’s almost an epidemic of melanoma in young women that can be traced primarily to these tanning beds,” he said.

California is just one of the handful of states that ban anyone under 18 from using tanning beds.  Many doctors hope the ban will be expanded across the country.  But for now they say the measure is a good first step in the right direction.

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Carlos is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carloscorrea23abc

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