A survey of Minnesota middle and high school students featured questions about indoor tanning habits for the first time, and now, the Minnesota Department of Health is launching a contest to squelch the behavior.
The Minnesota Student Survey looks at students in grades 5, 8, 9 and 11 in 280 public school districts statewide.
The survey says 34 percent of white 11th grade girls in Minnesota have used tanning beds at some point in the past year -- of those that did, over half used tanning beds 10 or more times.
"The survey underscores the importance of educating teenagers about the very real risks of tanning, one of which is increasing the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer," said Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger.
An MDH news release says indoor tanning beds deliver 10 to 15 times more ultraviolet (UV) radiation than natural sunlight, increasing the tanner's risk of developing melanoma by at least 59 percent. Indoor tanning is considered so dangerous that the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer declared UV radiation from indoor tanning as a carcinogen.
"We see many young women with melanoma on their torso, which may be the result of high-risk tanning behaviors such as indoor tanning," Dermatologist Rochelle Torgerson, M.D., Ph.D, and president of the Minnesota Dermatological Society said.
MDH is launching a contest, the UVideo Challenge, where high school students create 30-second videos that highlight the dangers of tanning. The contest begins this month and the Minnesota Dermatological Society is sponsoring cash prizes for the best video, with winners determined by a panel of experts and online peer voting. Videos can be submitted online until April 11. A final vote will be taken later that month.
More contest details: http://www.health.state.mn.us/uvideo/