Killer Tan

The use of tanning beds has become increasingly popular in minors and young adults. Teenagers see celebrities on TV and in magazines with glowing tans, and think they need to have this perfectly bronzed look year round. Some question how they are able to keep their sun kissed skin during the winter. This often leads young adults to visit tanning salons so they can achieve the desired “healthy glow”. After a few sessions in a tanning bed the skin pigment starts to darken toward the desired look, but the risk of skin cancer increase dramatically.

In some states, teenagers are willing it break the law in their quest for sun-kissed skin, especially in the middle of a Minnesota winter. It’s important that minors should be not able to go into one of these beds because it dramatically increases their chances to develop skin cancer and has many negative effects later on. The indoor tanning industry started in Europe in 1906. They were originally created to help develop Vitamin D production and help those who suffer with bone disease.

It didn’t become truly popular to have golden brown skin until the 1920’s when Coco Chanel made it a stylish trend. She changed many people’s opinions on having tanned skin. Many thought having darkened skin was unattractive because before then it was originally thought of as a sign of a lower working class member. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that the artificial light became a popular way for people to obtain a golden and healthy glow. It is shown that around 30 million Americans use a tanning bed every year and of that 30 million, 2.

3 million are minors (Szabo, “Alarming Find: 29% of High School Girls Use Tanning Beds”). According to a Swedish study, the younger you start tanning the greater risk you have for being diagnosed with melanoma. It is also shown that tanning in a bed before the age of 35 increases your risk for skin cancer by 75 percent (Bishop, “Tanning Beds Literally Give Users a Killer Tan”). Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers, and over two million are diagnosed annually. Due to the fact the white skin contains less melanin, Caucasians are the most susceptible for skin cancer.

The reality is that there is no such thing as a healthy glow. Skin cancers are typically classified into two categories: malignant of benign. Malignant tumors, known as melanoma, are the reason for 85 percent of skin cancer related deaths. Benign tumors are often known as basal cells. Both types of skin cancers are dangerous, and have to be surgically removed. Besides the dangers it causes to the skin, it also cause problems for the eyes. Studies have found a correlation between the use of tanning beds and cataracts disease, corneal infections and retinal damage.

The effects of tanning may not show up right away, but for every 30 minutes spent in the sun or 5 minutes in a bed, 5 wrinkles will be added to your skin. Many salon owners claim their beds are safer then tanning outdoors because it helps avoid the harmful rays of the sun, but going into a high pressure bed emits 15 times the amount of UVA and UVB then the sun does. Even going into a traditional low dosage bed that claims to have more UVA then UVB, is still going to give off 3 percent more than the sun.

Short amounts of time with large amounts of UVA and UVB exposure is the main reason for sunburn, which damages the skin cells and doubles the risk for skin cancer. Tanning salons claim that sun exposure is necessary to obtain a sufficient amount of vitamin D, and that tanning is a cure for Seasonal Affective Disorder. What they don’t tell you is that only 2 to 3 minutes would really be needed to sustain that need of vitamin D and anything longer then that can eventually cause immune deficiencies.

The same thing is to be said with Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is related to light exposure and not temperature. Tanning may be a possible cure for SAD, but again only a few minutes of exposure is needed and anything more is going to cause more harm the good. Many teenage girls do not understand the harm they are causing to their skin when using a tanning bed. Almost 25 percent of adolescents in America have reported going to an indoor tanning salon. Prevention and awareness are the two best ways to stop the increasing rise of skin cancer.

It is necessary to be safe when exposing yourself to the sun. Proper eye protection should always be worn, such as sunglasses that cover 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays. But most importantly, a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 should always be worn when there is any chance to exposure from the sun. Along with regularly performed examinations of moles and spots on the skin, skin cancer can be nearly 100 percent treatable at an early stage. With the long Minnesota winters a tanning bed may seem like the only option.

It may be a way for some to take their mind and body out of the cold snowy days, and prepare their skin for summer but the truth is not much good will come from tanning. The long term affects of wrinkles, eye problems and skin cancers are not worth it. Minors should be prevented from going into these beds as a safety precaution to reduce their risk of developing melanoma. Even if society can’t prevent adults from going into the beds, they should be aware harms they are causing to their bodies because the bottom line is that skin cancers from indoor tanning can be prevented.

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