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New Tan Tax Spotlights Connection Between Tanning Beds and Melanoma

-Tan tax in health care legislation begins July 1-

 HILLSBOROUGH, N.J.—July 1 marks the beginning of a new 10 percent federal tax instituted on indoor tanning sessions across the country.  Public health experts hope that the new tax will draw attention to the connection between the use of tanning beds and melanoma, the fastest growing cancer in the United States and worldwide.

 The “tan tax” is a part of the federal health care legislation passed by Congress earlier this year and one of the first implementations of the new law. Sunless tanning products and services are exempt. The tax is expected to generate $2.7 billion over the next 10 years to help cover uninsured Americans. 

 “Few people understand that they are truly gambling with their lives when they step into a tanning bed, and we hope the tax will make people think twice,” said Tim Turnham, executive director of the Melanoma Research Foundation. “Just like cigarettes, we expect this tax to impact decision-making, especially among younger users”

 The connection between indoor tanning and melanoma is backed by clear, evidence-based research. Data shows that using tanning beds before age 35 increases your risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent and occasionally using tanning beds can triple your chances.   

 Last year, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer reclassified tanning devices as “carcinogenic to humans.” This decision was based on scientific evidence linking skin cancers and exposure to ultraviolet rays from natural or artificial sources such as tanning beds. 

 Despite the connection between tanning beds and melanoma, many people continue to tan. As a result, the incidence of people under 30 developing melanoma is increasing faster than any other demographic group, soaring by 50 percent in young women since 1980.

 “I frequented tanning salons regularly because it helped me relax and I felt pretty with a tan,” said Kristi Setzer, a 28-year old woman who was diagnosed with melanoma in 2008. “I knew of the risks but didn’t accept I was exposing myself to something that could cause cancer. This tax should be a reality check for people because it absolutely can happen to you and it’s just not worth the risk.”

 Nearly 69,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with the disease in 2010, resulting in one death every single hour. Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25- to 29-years-old and the second most common cancer in adolescents and young adults 15- to 29-years-old.

 “We’re not against small businesses in our support of the tax, but people need to be fully aware of the health risks,” said Turnham.  “If melanoma were easy to cure, we probably wouldn’t see this level of controversy. But this deadly disease can strike men and women of all ages, races and skin types and has few, if any, treatment options for most patients. The key takeaway is that indoor tanning heightens your risks of developing this deadly disease.”  

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About Melanoma

Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, is one of the fastest growing cancers in the United States and can strike men and women of all ages, all races and skin types. In fact, with a one in 50 lifetime risk of developing melanoma, nearly 69,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with the disease in 2010, resulting in 8,700 deaths or one person every hour. Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25- to 29-years-old and the second most common cancer in adolescents and young adults 15- to 29-years-old.

About Melanoma Research Foundation

The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) is the largest independent, national organization devoted to melanoma in the United States. Committed to the support of medical research in finding effective treatments and eventually a cure for melanoma, the MRF also educates patients and physicians about prevention, diagnosis and the treatment of melanoma. The MRF is an active advocate for the melanoma community, helping to raise awareness of this disease and the need for a cure. The MRF’s website is the premier source for melanoma information seekers. More information is available at www.melanoma.org

Cosmopolitan magazine has partnered with the MRF to educate people about the importance of sun safety.  Cosmo readers can receive an awareness bracelet with a $10 donation or more to the MRF. The fundraising drive is part the magazine’s ongoing “Practice Safe Sun” campaign to combat the high rate of skin cancer among young women.  To get yours now, text MRF followed by a space then the amount of your donation to 27138 or visit www.firstgiving.com/cosmopolitan.