Health experts in Mississippi are urging state lawmakers to ban the use of tanning beds for people under 18. Doctors and anti-cancer groups say the beds cause potentially deadly skin cancers.
Doctors in Mississippi say the use of tanning beds is widespread and that it is extremely damaging to a young person's skin.
University of Mississippi Medical Center dermatologist Robert Brodell says he sees young people, especially women, in his practice every day that have potentially deadly skin cancer and they all used tanning beds.
"They are designed to not cause sunburn. Well, that is great it is nice that they don't cause sunburn but they are the more deeply penetrating UVA rays compared to the UVB rays that are the burning rays of the sun. And they are quite damaging to the skin," Brodell said.
The American Cancer Society is backing two bills that would prohibit the use of tanning beds for anyone under 18.
Currently, Mississippi teens need parental permission to use a tanning bed.
State health officer Dr. Mary Currier says that is not enough.
"If there were a skin cream that caused cancer, would we be allowing our kids to wear it? No, I don't think so. Data from CDC shows that about 30% of white, adolescent girls use tanning beds. And that is just a huge risk to our kids," Currier said.
Around 500 Mississippians are diagnosed with Melanoma every year, which is the most deadly form of skin cancer.
Use of tanning beds before age 35 results in a 59-percent increase in the risk of developing the cancer.