Iowa students take the "no tanning pledge" before prom - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Iowa students take the "no tanning pledge" before prom

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Cedar Rapids, Iowa (WQOW) - With prom season here, many teens will be soaking in some ultraviolet radiation, but students in eight Cedar Rapids schools are taking a no tanning pledge.

A nurse from the Nassif Community Cancer Center visited Jefferson High School to answer questions from teens and to get them to take the pledge.

The goal is to let teens know the growing risks of tanning, which may lead to skin cancer.

Leslie Van Bogart owns Your Tanning Bar in Cedar Rapids, and says it's essential to get teens out of tanning beds.

She exclusively offers airbrushed tans, meaning there are no tanning beds in her salon.

"Working in the tanning industry you saw people daily come in and tan, and what they were doing to their skin," said Van Bogart. "Sitting there putting them in a tanning bed, I just realized, it kind of just hit me what we're actually doing to these people, especially people under the age of 18."

It's an effort to bring awareness to the growing number of cancer-related deaths and issues among tanning teens, the cancer center

Ghada Al-Hertz is just one of nearly a 1,000 Jefferson High School students taking the no tanning pledge.

There are seven schools besides Jefferson taking part in the no tanning pledge.

The high school with the highest percentage of pledges will receive an after-prom prize.

"Tanning multiple times, months ahead to get ready for prom. It's something that they just don't need to do" said Al-Hertz.

She says man people her age goes tanning to look good or better, but she says a person's natural skin tone is the best beauty.

"I work in a melanoma clinic a couple days a week and I've really been surprised by the increase in the number of teenagers and young adults," said Nassif Cancer Center Nurse Emi Chapman.

She says tanning beds increase that risk for melanoma by 75 percent.

"A lot of people die because of melanoma skin cancer," said Al-Hertz. "It's not one of those cancers that they can just take the piece of skin out and get over with it. It spreads to the rest of your skin; it spreads to your organs, it lethal, it kills."

"I took the no tanning pledge because I have a step dad that's starting to get skin cancer on his face," said Jefferson sophomore Timothy Bell.

Van Bogart says she hopes offering only tanning sprays and lotions will hopefully turn teens and adults away from the "fake bake."

Experts say they're surprised and concerned by an increase of cancer signs in teenagers and young adults.

KWWL contributed to this report.

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