Local
5:00 am
Mon May 12, 2014

Dermatologist raises concerns over constant tanning

For local sunbathers, the month of May represented the start of sun tan season. That has changed with the proliferation of  tanning booths, a development is worrying health care professionals.

Dr. Ilene Rothman
Dr. Ilene Rothman
Credit photo courtesy of Roswell Park

While Dr. Ilene Rothman says there are other causes of melanoma skin cancers besides sun light, it's the dominant cause of what can be fatal cancers if not treated. She says there are better treatments today than there used to be and there is more awareness of the possibilities.

Doctors relentlessly push sun screens of at least an SPF 30.

"More and more over the years, I see teenagers and I'd say mostly people in their teens and twenties coming in and I'm doing a complete skin exam and there are no tan lines anymore," said Rothman, who serves as interim chair of the Department of Dermatology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute and chief of pediatric dermatology at Women and Children's Hospital.

What's changed is widespread use of tanning beds. in her roles as interim chair of the Department of Dermatology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute and chief of pediatric dermatology at Women and Children's Hospital, Rothman is seeing the difference.

"There are areas where they can develop melanomas that wouldn't have been as common before," she says.

Rothman says she's relentless in pushing against use of the tanning devices and encourages young melanoma survivors to give talks to other young people warning them of the risks of excessive exposure to sun or tanning beds.