Letter: Anti-tanning bill is necessary to protect state’s minors

Our Lady of the Lake applauds state Rep. Helena Moreno (D-New Orleans) and her fellow members of the Louisiana Legislature for their passage of House Bill 746 protecting anyone under the age of 18 from the risks associated with the use of indoor tanning devices.

In recognition of May as Skin Cancer Awareness Month, I join my colleagues at the Mary Bird Perkins-Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center in urging Gov. Bobby Jindal to sign this legislation into law immediately so it can take effect as soon as possible.

With swimsuit season upon us, the use of tanning beds by teenage girls increases this time of year.

We protect our youth from the dangers of tobacco and alcohol and should start doing so against the ultraviolet radiation exposure that is known to cause skin cancer. Exposure to UV radiation during childhood and adolescence increases the risk factor for a skin cancer diagnosis as an adult.

According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, with melanoma as one of the most common and deadly cancers diagnosed among young adults.

More than 750 cases of melanoma are expected to be diagnosed in Louisiana this year.

People are encouraged to follow these steps to protect themselves from overexposure to UV radiation:

Do not burn or tan

Seek shade

Wear sun-protective clothing

Generously apply sunscreen

Use extra caution near water, snow and sand, which reflect the sun’s rays

At least five states — California, Illinois, Nevada, Texas and Vermont — have banned the use of tanning beds for minors. As a dermatologist with Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group, I am proud to be in a state with legislators who are conscientious enough to be at the forefront of this movement.

Dr. Laci Theunissen

dermatologist

Baton Rouge