Amarillo, TX - Cases of skin cancer are on the rise and now health experts are saying tanning beds should be considered just as dangerous as smoking cigarettes.
Melanoma is currently the leading cause of cancer in women ages 25 through 30 and the blame has been placed on tanning beds.
However, a local business owner says there is another side of the story. The owner of Neon Sun in Amarillo, Blake Goldston, says the health benefits are never included in the research. "The tanning industry has never done any of its own research, all of the research that has ever been done is coming from independent studies through the CDC, through universities, hospitals, that sort of thing, so health benefits include things like helping with allergies, arthritis, it helps with depression and to prevent sleeping disorders."
Most cities in Texas have more tanning salons than popular fast food chain restaurants. A local doctor, Elaine Cook, says there needs to be more health warnings about the risks with tanning. "People think that skin cancer is a minor thing and it is nothing to be worried about. People know tanning beds causing aging and wrinkles and people tend to be more concerned about that, but the skin cancer a lot of people blow off. And you know the sad thing about that is melanoma is the serious kind of skin cancer that kills you."
However, Goldston says there are vital health benefits from participating in indoor tanning. "80 percent of people in the world lack vitamin D and your body needs vitamin D. The CDC actually doubled there weekly recommended exposure to ultraviolet light because of this."
Cook says you don't need to indoor tan to receive vitamin D. She says you get as much as you need through 5 minutes a day of sun exposure to the back of your hand. In September Texas outlawed minors from tanning in a tanning bed, regardless of parental consent.