Updated:ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) (AP)ong> - Minnesota health officials said Tuesday they are worried about the number of white teenage girls using tanning beds, which is putting them at risk of getting skin cancer.
According to the Minnesota Student Survey, compiled by the state Health Department, slightly more than one-third of white 11th-grade girls in Minnesota said they have used a tanning bed within the past year. Among that group, the survey found more than half said they tanned at least 10 times in the past 12 months.
Among white 11th-grade boys in Minnesota, only 5 percent used a tanning bed during the last year, the survey showed.
This is the first year the survey has addressed use of tanning beds by teens, the Star Tribune reported.
"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," Minnesota health commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger said in a statement.
Indoor tanning beds deliver 10 to 15 times more ultraviolet radiation than natural sunlight, increasing the user's risk of developing melanoma by at least 59 percent, according to state health officials.
Melanoma is "a terrible cancer that can rob young adults of years of their life," said University of Minnesota associate professor DeAnn Lazovich, a leading researcher on indoor tanning and melanoma at the School of Public Health and Masonic Cancer Center. "Sadly, we do not know how to prevent many cancers. But, we do know that avoiding ultraviolet exposure can prevent many melanomas."
The Virginia-based Indoor Tanning Association, which represents indoor tanning manufacturers, distributors and facility owners, contends a "growing body of science produced by independent medical professionals" shows the health benefits of regular, moderate exposure to ultraviolet light, either from the sun or from a tanning bed.
The association also believes that parents, and not the government, should determine whether youngsters can use tanning beds.
In Minnesota, in-person parental permission is needed for anyone under 16 to use a commercially operated tanning bed.
In an effort to alert teens to the dangers of indoor tanning, the state Health Department is promoting a contest. The UVideo Challenge calls on teens to create short videos about the dangers of tanning.