GUEST POST: Melanoma Awareness Month–Know the Dangers of Indoor Tanning

Didi and Jan PecciaDidi and Jan Peccia.

by Didi Peccia


Didi Peccia is a small business owner in Helena.

Jan Peccia was not only my sister-in-law, she was my best friend. We raised our babies together and we went into business together. She and I co-owned Montana Book and Toy Company and Augustine Properties in Helena. But in 2013 Jan was diagnosed with melanoma and died just 22 months later.

May is Melanoma Awareness Month, and it is the perfect time to shed light on the dangers of skin cancer. Many young people hear the dangers of skin damage and skin cancer caused by sun exposure and tanning devices, but don’t pay attention to them. These warnings are very real. Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the country. Roughly 400,000 cases in the United States each year are caused by indoor tanning. Tanning also causes roughly 4,000 cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, each year. An estimated 350 people in Montana are expected to be diagnosed with melanoma this year.

Indoor tanning is so dangerous that the World Health Organization lists artificial tanning devices in the same carcinogenic category as asbestos and tobacco. And, the FDA reclassified tanning beds so that manufacturers must include a visible black box warning to advise against use by teens.

Despite these dangers, misconceptions about the risks and benefits of tanning are prevalent, in part due to false information from the tanning industry. Tan skin is not healthy skin. Having a tan actually means your skin or skin cells are damaged.

Montana’s youth are at greatest risk for damage from tanning because a young person’s skin is still developing. And teens are tanning at an alarming rate. In the past year, one in five high school girls nationwide reported tanning; that number grew to one in four by senior year. Melanoma is the fourth most common cancer among 15-29 year olds and the third most common cancer in people aged 29-35. What’s even scarier is that tanning before age 35 increases a person’s risk for melanoma by 59 percent.

Jan wanted everyone to know the importance of keeping your skin healthy and watching for abnormal changes to moles. I want to honor Jan’s legacy and protect teens by promoting healthy skin and avoiding the dangers of tanning beds. Montana does not have any age restrictions on tanning – but we can change that. As someone who lost a loved one to a preventable type of cancer, I want to educate my state lawmakers about this important issue. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and other health organizations hope to work with legislators in 2017 to restrict access to tanning devices for children under 18.

Until we pass an age restriction on tanning, too many of our youth will expose themselves to harmful UV rays. And more people will continue to lose their loved ones to skin cancer.



3 Comments on "GUEST POST: Melanoma Awareness Month–Know the Dangers of Indoor Tanning"

  1. I never lay out in the sun tanning. I consider tanning beds ridiculous and laugh at people who use them. I was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma several years ago on the side of my neck. You can get cancer without tanning. I have what my doctor calls “spotty” skin with lots of little moles and one of them went rogue. Tanning can contribute but you can also get cancer without tanning. It’s important to remember that. I would have considered myself ‘safe’ from skin cancer since I didn’t tan intentionally. I was wrong.

  2. I worked all most of my life outside, No matter what you say; lots of our european skin types does not Tan, it turns red like a burn from the stove, and in my case when overexposed, it will bubble like a second degree burn,or peel. Obviously, That just cant be healthy and I changed my lifestyle to compensate for it. Yes Tanning beds are very dangerous, but so is trying actively staying outside and sunning to produce the same thing.

    In our state I would believe it even more dangerous as we are far closer to the sun in altitude than on the beaches of California. I find it important to wear long sleeves and a floppy hat, plus sunscreen if outside for more than an Hour. It is dangerous to believe also that climate change will make it any better… I believe that as the ozone depletes it will Get far worse for skin cancers among the Population.

    The ozone layer protects us from the harmful effects of certain wavelengths of ultraviolet (UV) light from the Sun. Research has shown that even small amounts of UV-B radiation can cause considerable harm. UV-B damages the genetic material of DNA and is related to some types of skin cancer. The risk of developing malignant melanoma is directly related to the sensitivity of an individual’s skin to the Sun (i.e., fair-skinned are more susceptible than darker skinned individuals). The victims are almost exclusively Caucasians, particularly fair-skinned Caucasians. The incidence of malignant melanoma has been increasing among light-skinned populations around the world for decades. and it is directly attributed to us damaging the sky above us with pollution.

    According to some estimates by scientists a sustained 10% global loss of ozone may lead to a 26% increase in the incidence of skin cancers among fair skinned people. The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that for every 2% increase in UV-B radiation, it will result in a 2 to 6% increase in non-melanoma skin cancer alone.

    These figures should scare anyone with children. Teach your children to keep their skin covered with sunscreen and clothing. Its just the right and safe thing to do. And do become actively against air pollution for the sake of our clean Air, breathing and protection of the OZone!

    Kudos to the author for writing about, what is still considered a little known danger. Sorry for the loss of you sister in law.

  3. you skipped the most dangerous side effect-you could end up looking like Donald Trump!

Comments are closed.