Tanning bed safety debate continues

Some say tanning beds have benefits, producing vitamin D / Ashley Knight

The tanning beds at Tony's Athletic West Side Gym get their fair share of use.

"Our tanning beds stay busy year round and they are seasonal, usually their busiest time is right after the first of the year," says Owner, Tony Powell.

And, in the face of medical experts with reasons enough to stay away from them, he says there are some benefits.

"Provide vitamin d which is a "feel good" vitamin and they also help with some skin problems."

Dermatologist Dr. Melinda Greenfield, while not favoring the government involvement, agrees with the law.

"We do know, as dermatologists that a lot of damage that's done at the earlier age unfortunately does come back to haunt you later on in life," says Greenfield.

She's seen the negative side effects of tanning beds, saying they can be more harmful than hours spent in the sun. A few of her patients are men who have spent their lives plowing and planting in the fields.

"And they may come in, in their 70's and I might find a skin cancer or two on them. On the flip side of that, I have early 20-year-olds that have five or six of the same skin cancers that have been to the tanning beds for five years," says Greenfield.

Powell maintains moderation is the key, and the new law will help keep people who are under-age from abusing the service and harming themselves.

"It's just like with anything else, is not to abuse it and overdo it, and just do it in moderation."

But Dr. Greenfield says the law likely will not change anything.

"The people that the law would actually apply to, those same individuals are going to get the permission because their parents are gonna let them go anyway," adds Greenfield.

She says that while they do use UV rays in certain skin treatments, it is nowhere near the amount you see in a tanning bed.

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