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Many teens believe that tanning just once or twice won’t increase their chances of developing skin cancer. Wrong, Smith said. One time in a tanning bed, which has UV rays three times stronger than the sun’s, can increase the risk of melanoma by 20 percent.
“Going one time is one time too many,” Smith said.
‘You’re not invincible’
Megan Ramey, of Hugo, knows that all too well. Starting around age 15 and through high school, Ramey, now 24, would go tanning a few times before school dances, vacations or before an ice skating competition, she said. And once she got to college, she kept it up.
In her junior year of college in Mankato, she noticed an elevated black mole on her lower back that itched and bled. She visited a local urgent care, but was told she was too young for skin cancer, she said.
When she returned home to Hugo for the summer and had her yearly physical, her doctor was more concerned. The mole was removed and biopsied.
Ramey had Stage III melanoma; the cancer had spread to her lymphatic system. She was 20 years old.
For several years, she underwent treatments, and she’s now cancer-free.
Ramey wants young people to understand how dangerous tanning is. “You’re not invincible as much as you think you’re invincible,” she said.
Said Eaton: “It’s such a preventable form of cancer that I really hope people get the message … it’s not worth dying for.”
Cody Nelson and Danielle Dullinger are University of Minnesota students on assignment for the Star Tribune. They can be reached at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.