COMMENTARY | According to The Sideshow, New Jersey mom Patricia Krentcil says her arrest for putting her 5-year-old daughter in a tanning booth was just a misunderstanding. It's hard, however, when looking at the image of Krentcil to misunderstand her questionable act of parenting is not the only problem she has. Her need to bake herself to a burnt-toast color in a tanning bed is a problem as well.
According to Susan Evans, MD, a recent study in Australia shows that the type of UV rays found in tanning beds are more of a cancer danger than previously thought. All UV radiation damages the skin and increases the risk of developing skin cancers, including melanoma.
The FDA is in agreement with Dr. Evans, stating that the use of indoor tanning equipment increases a person's risk of melanoma by 75 percent if tanning bed use started before age 35. The use of tanning beds is particularly dangerous for children and teens, which had led to a number of states -- including New Jersey -- placing age limits on the use of tanning beds.
But Dr. Evans sees resolution to the issue as more than just a matter of placing age limits on who can use the tanning bed. In fact, she thinks society needs to rethink its position on beauty entirely, and I agree.
"Tan really is not beautiful," she states. "It is a walking advertisement for skin cancer."
The Krentcil family is arguing that the child, who has red hair and fair skin, received a sunburn from playing outside and that she never went into the tanning booth itself, but merely accompanied her mother to the tanning salon. Krentcil says that using a tanning bed is a decision for her daughter to decide when she is legally old enough to do so. That may be the case.
However, it seems as though the even more responsible choice for this mother to make would be for her to begin speaking to her daughter about the importance of taking care of her skin and what the risks are if she doesn't. It's a lesson that someone should give to Krentcil herself: Lay off the tanning bed. Before it's too late, if it isn't already.
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