Tanning Beds, Sunshine And Skin Cancer: What’s the Connection?

Tanning Beds, Sunshine And Skin Cancer: What’s the Connection?

By Kathy Sena

Here’s a chance to set a greater example for your kids, while protecting your own skin as well. Just say “No” to tanning beds. The recent increase in use of tanning beds by teenagers has contributed to a sharp rise in melanoma rates in young people, says New York city dermatologist, Joshua Fox, M.D. The short-term bronzing effects of tanning-bed use are just not worth the possible long-term consequences of increased skin-cancer risk and premature aging, he adds.

“Particularly during the teenage years, continued use of tanning bed or sun lamp can be quite dangerous,” Fox says. “It can increase the risk of developing malignant melanoma by more than 55 percent, and it can nearly double the chances of basal cell and/or squamous-cell cancer.”

Heaven knows, our “adult” skin doesn’t need the additional damage that can come from sun or tanning bed exposure.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) and the American Cancer Society (ACS):

  • Melanoma now ranks as the most common cancer among people ages 25 to 29;
  • Each year, more than one million people, many of them teenagers, visit tanning salons;
  • Over the past two decades, melanoma rates rose 60.5 percent in women and 26.7 percent in men;
  • Melanoma is linked to excessive sun exposure in the first 10 to 19 years of life, a period during which almost 80 percent of a person’s lifetime sun exposures occurs.

“The reason teens are so at risk is that they are still experiencing tremendous growth at the cellular level, “Fox explains. “Their skin cells, like every other cell in their body, are dividing more rapidly than they do when they reach adulthood. And the more rapidly cells change, the higher the chances detrimentally— particularly when hit by the deleterious effects of the sun —causing cancer to possibly develop.”

Many surveys have found that people use tanning beds for one simple reason: vanity. But a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology suggests there could be more to it. Researchers found evidence that the UVA rays in tanning beds may stimulate the brain endorphins, those “feel-good” hormones, example by taking good care of your skin. There are many safe self-tanning creams, gels and sprays available today that can give the appearance of a natural tan without the devastating side-effects of tanning beds or too much sun.

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