Missouri lawmakers considering bill to make indoor tanning beds illegal for those under 18

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Prom season's right around the corner, and plenty of teens will want the glow from a tanning bed. But Missouri lawmakers could shut the door on those beds for anyone under 18.

FOX 4's Sherae Honeycutt talked to one woman who wishes she'd known what tanning can do.

"Is a tan worth all of this?" Amanda Scott asked.

Scott started tanning when she was 15 years old.

"I was invited to my first formal dance," Scott said. "I just wanted to make sure I looked good in my dress."

She would go tanning 20-30 times before a big event.

"I liked the way it made me look, the way it made me feel," she said. "I felt like I looked healthier. I felt like pictures looked better, and I also felt relaxed."

In her 20s, Scott decided to put a tanning bed in her home.

"I would use it seasonally, not yearound, but I would use it to get a good tan when it was starting to get warm outside," Scott said. "Then I started incorporating it into my workouts. I would work out in my gym in my house, and then I would hop into my tanning bed for 20 minutes."

But that healthy feeling had a horrifying result in her 30s -- stage 3 melanoma that spread to some of her lymph nodes and lead to Lymphodema.

"It was scary. All I could think about was my daughter and my family. Everybody was so concerned, and it was a very sad time," Scott said.

Deede Liu with the University of Kansas Health System said she's seen a patient as young as 19 with melanoma.

"We know now that they do contribute to a higher risk of skin cancer, and in addition they can be immunosuppressive and increase risks of infections even for those that go indoor tanning," Liu said.

Liu said its time to change the way we get our glow.

"In terms of prevention, I think its very important to limit indoor tanning as a method of public health," Liu said. "Unfortunately we have a cultural ideal of beauty that still hangs onto that tanned look, but there are safer ways on obtaining that look. There are many self tanners that I think are quite convincing."

A bill in the Missouri House backed by Rep. Nick Schroer aims to keep teens out of tanning beds.

"Teens are still tanning under the age of 17," Schroer said. "They're tanning without parental consent. They're forging parental consent, and they're tanning with parental consent where parents who came in and testified had no idea the health hazards of indoor UV tanning."

House Bill 1260 would make it illegal for anyone under 18 to use a tanning bed in Missouri.

"The very horrifying statistic is in the past nine years we've seen in the state of Missouri the rate of melanoma double," Schroer said. "It's very scary listening to the stories of survivors, family members, and individuals that didn't make it. This is a very scary issue, and we have alternatives that are very healthy."

A scary reality that Scott had to face.

The first step was getting rid of her in-home tanning bed.

"Literally, about 6 months after going through what I did, I disposed of it. I got rid of it," Scott said. "Melanoma is the most un-glamorous situation. When you go through surgeries and staples and stitches and treatment and hair loss and the side effects from having surgeries -- it's choices that I wish I didn't make, and I wish I had a little more education on what could happen."

House Bill 1260 is currently in a rules committee, and Schroer hopes to see it on the floor of the state capitol soon.