In most states, kids aren't supposed to be able to be visit the local tanning salon without a parent's permission.
Tanning salons could do a better job on rules limiting teenagers' use of tanning beds.
Tanning salons could do a better job on rules limiting teenagers' use of tanning beds. iStockphoto.com
And a creative study that used college students who sounded like 15-year-old girls to call salons for appointments found most of them—87 percent—wouldn't go ahead without a parental OK.
But, the sting, which targeted tanning salons in all 50 states, found they didn't do as good a job in following Food and Drug Administration recommendations that newcomers shouldn't go for tanning sessions more than three times in their first week. Only 11 percent of salons met that standard.
The results of the study appear in the current issue of the Archives of Dermatology.
Exposure to the UV light of tanning lamps raises the risk of skin cancer—especially for younger people. Twenty-one states have laws in place that restrict indoor tanning for minors, and the World Health Organization recommends that it be banned entirely for those younger than 18. Only 5 percent of salons in the sting refused a potential underage client outright.
The sting is part a larger project called CITY 100: Controlling Indoor Tanning in Youth.
An author of the report, Joni Mayer, a professor of health promotion at San Diego State University's Graduate School of Public Health, told us it may not be a coincidence that melanoma has increased among young women in recent years as indoor tanning has become popular with girls.
One bit of the study that caught our attention was the researchers' use of voice-analysis software to make sure the college students really did sound like teenage girls. "All 5 confederates' voice frequencies fell within the acceptable ranges for a 15-year-old girl," the scientists wrote. In care you were wondering, the sweet spot for a teenage girl's pitch is 179 to 310 hertz.