However, I concluded by saying: “If (your daughter) really wants a tanned look, suggest using artificial tanners ... But if prom night is a few days away, and she's still not happy with what she sees in the mirror, a single visit to the tanning salon is not the end of the world.”
Another reader, who had lost a member of her family to melanoma, said that it was “completely irresponsible” for me to countenance even a single visit to a tanning salon.
I understand why she would feel that way, and I agree with her that a single visit can be the first step on a slippery slope to regular use, unless parents intervene.
But I don't know of any evidence that a single visit to a tanning salon raises the risk of skin cancers.
It's a matter of perspective. Not every behavior that is risky if you do it regularly is risky if you do it only occasionally.
Dr. Anthony Komaroff is a physician and professor at Harvard Medical School. To send questions, go to AskDoctorK.com, or write: Ask Doctor K, 10 Shattuck St., Second Floor, Boston, MA 02115.