By Diana Rocco
NEW JERSEY (CBS) — As New Jersey mom Patricia Krentcil stands in court, accused of bringing her daughter into a tanning bed, one look at her is raising some questions about the risks of excessive tanning.
While the 44-year-old says she never took her 6-year-old daughter into the tanning bed, she loves to tan and does so often. But doctors say it’s not only unhealthy; according to a new study from the University of Texas, it can be just as addictive as drug or alcohol use.
“If you give a little bit more every day, the skin adapts and takes on more…I fear for that little girl, because someday, she may not have a mom there,” says Dr. Laurel Schwartz, a dermatologist at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
Schwartz says the increased risk of melanoma is as high as 75 percent for people who started tanning before they were 35. “It’s bad for your skin. We know it causes DNA damage, and we know it causes skin cancer.”
Still, thousands of young women can’t get enough. In New Jersey, lawmakers are proposing legislation to keep teenagers under 18 out of tanning beds by making it illegal. As it stands, children under 14 aren’t allowed to use tanning beds, and teens ages 14 to 17 need parental consent.