Indoor tanning beds present another cancer hazard. People who tan before age 35 increase their risk of melanoma by 75 percent, Gupta said.
"A tanned skin really is unhealthy skin because it's damaged," he said.
The CDC and the National Cancer Institute analyzed data from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey about indoor tanning. The highest rates of tanning were found among white women ages 18-21, with 31.8 percent reporting tanning. White women ages 22-25 had the second-highest rate, with 29.6 percent saying they tanned during the past year.
Indoor tanning was especially prevalent among 18- to 21-year-old women in the Midwest and among 22- to 25-year-old women in the South, according to the CDC report.
Jordan said the number of people who tan in West Virginia is lower than other places because of lower incomes and lack of accessibility to tanning beds.
But she also said people who can't afford other things they want might choose to go tanning.
"Tanning is one of the easier ways to feel better about yourself," she said.
The West Virginia Senate passed a bill in February preventing people under the age of 18 from using tanning beds. The bill was then sent to the House of Delegates, where it died. Lawmakers are studying the issue further this year.
Gupta said the law would be an important step in regulating a dangerous "fashion trend."
"This is one legislation that completely makes sense from a public health aspect," he said.
Jordan warned that it's crucial for people who tan to understand the dangers of the activity.
"What they see is this pretty, golden skin on the top," she said. "What they're not seeing is the dead, burnt skin on the bottom."
Reach Alison Matas at alison.ma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100.