It may seem attractive to look like you just hopped off a plane from Hawaii, but the truth is that a sun-kissed glow can spell trouble for your skin. By now, you probably know that the sun can age your skin, create discoloration, or even trigger skin cancer. For this reason, health experts recommend wearing sunscreen and protective clothing on a daily basis to minimize your risk of developing cancer. Much of the public doesn’t think tanning is a big deal, and often frequents tanning beds to artificially darken the skin. You’ve probably heard a lot about the debate surrounding tanning beds–whether they’re safer than tanning in the sun, whether they should be banned, and whether or not they contribute to the increasing number of skin cancer cases. Let’s see if we can reveal some answers about the safety of tanning beds, and how they relate to skin cancer.
What a Tan Does to Your Skin
A tan may seem like it gives your skin a little life, but it is actually a sign of skin damage. Many people think a tan is safer than a burn, but the truth is that the darkened skin pigmentation is the skin’s response to damage from the sun. A tan from any source does not yield a “healthy glow,” but rather reveals signs of skin in distress.
Are Tanning Beds Safer Than the Sun?
Tanning beds use lamps instead of solar power to darken the skin, often with the aid of tanning lotions. However, these lamps still expose tanning bed users to UVA and UVB rays, the dangerous aspects of tanning in the sun, making them no safer. Furthermore, multiple studies have been conducted, suggesting the dangers of tanning beds. According to skincancer.org, people who tan indoors are about 74 percent more likely than non-tanners to develop melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. Additionally, the study revealed that there was a major correlation between the amount of time spent in the tanning bed and the likelihood of developing cancer. In a recent study, findings showed that indoor tanning caused more cases of skin cancer than smoking did lung cancer. In the US, hundreds of thousands of skin cancer cases have been linked to indoor tanning. Tanning beds have also been linked to eye damage and cancers.
Not surprisingly, the majority of indoor tanners are young white women between the ages of 16 and 29, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Thirty five percent of American adults have used a tanning bed at some point during their lives. What’s particularly troubling about these demographics is the prevalence of young people utilizing the tanning industry. Young, otherwise healthy women are putting themselves at great risk for a potentially fatal but preventable disease. Fortunately, some are starting to take notice.
Legislators are starting to pay attention to the research surrounding tanning beds, and several states have proposed legislation to restrict tanning beds. Currently, the use of tanning beds for minors is banned in several states, with more likely on the way.
Pale and Pretty
While you may be disappointed to find that it’s just not safe to get a tan, natural or otherwise, there are several upsides to protecting your skin besides preventing skin cancer. By avoiding tanning, you’ll help protect yourself from myriad signs of premature aging, such as excessive wrinkling, discoloration, and skin laxity. Remember, you still need to protect your skin from natural sunlight to prevent damage and reduce your risk for cancer. Follow these tips, and your skin will stay naturally beautiful and healthy for longer. Isn’t that worth being a little pale? Hopefully, as awareness of the dangers of tanning continues to rise, cultural norms of beauty will begin to change.
If you’re concerned about a skin irregularity that looks like it could be cancer, you should seek the opinion of a dermatologist right away. The most common forms of skin cancer can usually be treated easily if caught early. Dr. Diane Walder and Dr. Stacy Chimento of Miami is a renowned medical and cosmetic dermatologist who has extensive experience performing skin cancer treatments, such as MOHS surgery. Don’t wait. Make an appointment with Dr. Walder today if you’re concerned about your skin.
If you were once a regular tanner, it’s always a good idea to get checked and discuss your options for skin rejuvenation. You may not have skin cancer, but your skin may have aged significantly. Dr. Walder offers a wide range of anti-aging treatments to address a number of problems, and is standing by to be your ally in skin health and beauty. Call (305) 866-2177 to schedule your appointment today.