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Dr. Brent Friesen, a medical officer of health for AHS, says new research suggests parents are in the dark about their teens' tanning habits. (CBC)

New research into the use of indoor tanning salons by Alberta teenagers suggests their parents are clueless about it. 

In a recent survey, Alberta Health Services (AHS) wanted to know what parents knew about their teens' use of indoor tanning.

Dr. Brent Friesen, a medical officer of health for AHS, said the results were surprising.

"Three per cent of parents on a random telephone survey indicate that ... they thought their children tanned or their children had used indoor tanning," he said.

"That was quite a bit different figure from the study we'd conducted earlier."

That previous study found among 15 to 17 year olds, one out of every five had tried indoor tanning.

Friesen says it suggests parents may simply be out of touch, which is unfortunate given that young people are especially vulnerable to the dangers of indoor tanning.

He said research has shown tanning before age 35 increases a person’s risk for developing skin cancer by 75 per cent.

"The younger you are, that you are exposed to the UV radiation, the more easily your skin gets damaged, and the greater the risk in the future of developing skin cancer," Friesen said.

Zain Velji, a public policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society, said it also suggests what's being done now to stop tanning isn't working.

"We know that parental consent has also not been working. So, we know that the only way to get this done is with a comprehensive ban for individuals under 18 in our province."

British Columbia, Quebec and Nova Scotia are the only provinces with bans in place for people under 18.

Alberta health officials created a science advisory committee to look into the issue last year.