Tanning Is Bad

Attention-getter: How many of you have forgotten to put suntan lotion on while at the beach or tanned in a bed longer than your skin could handle and have resulted in a reddish/purplish, totally unattractive color? Well, I’ll admit, I’ve done both… Thesis: Every time a person comes in contact with ultraviolet radiation they increase the chance of having pre-mature aging, skin cancer, and/or serious eye damage, due to not enough UV protection. Preview: Today I am going to talk to you about the negative effects of tanning, whether it is from natural sunlight or a tanning bed.

First, I’m going to inform you about the background facts of ultraviolet rays (what they are, where they come from and why they are so dangerous). Next, I want to tell you how those UVRs specifically damage a person’s skin. Lastly, I would like to tell you how UVRs damage the eyes, as well. Main Point 1: Let’s start by defining what an ultraviolet ray is. To understand what UVRs are, you first need to know where they come from. According to Narayanan and the International Journal of Dermatology (Skin Cancer article), UVRs are part of an electromagnetic radiation spectrum, part of sunlight, along with visible and infrared light.

Ultraviolet is considered the most significant on the spectrum because it causes skin cancers and photo aging. These rays are broken up into two main types, UVA and UVB rays. UVA has long wavelengths, while UVB has shorter wavelengths. Most of UVA reaches the earth’s surface and penetrates the skin more deeply, which causes tanning and aging of the skin. On the other hand, not nearly as much UVB reaches the earth’s surface but is responsible for the harmful burning of the skin and causes of cancer.

Schmidt of Environmental Health Perspectives (Tanning bed article), states that artificial tanning became popular during the 1980’s, but has been increasing significantly since then. An estimated number of 28 million people use tanning beds in the United States. When people use tanning beds, they go in sessions for typically 2-15 minutes at a time. Although the time is much shorter than if you were sitting on the beach, the UVR that is absorbed is two to three times stronger than the natural sunlight at noon, which makes the process much more dangerous.

This is because the proximity is much closer. The sun is millions of miles away, whereas the light bulbs in a tanning bed are only a few inches away. Because of these strong rays and high dangers, many states have banned indoor tanning for children under 18 years old. Main Point 2: Now that I’ve talked about how UVRs are dangerous, it’s time to get more in depth about what they are dangerous towards; the human skin. Everyone’s skin is different. Some people tan, others burn, and the worst of all, some people burn and peel afterwards.

According to Tenkate and the Journal of Environmental Health (Health risks article), there are different skin types and that is the reason for the wide range of reactions towards UV exposure on the skin. The lightest skin type is Type I which always burns and peels, while the darkest skin type is Type VI which never burns and tans very easily. Aside from burns, there are more serious side effects that can be life-threatening. Skin cancers are the most frequently detected tumors found in humans and the effects may take 20 or more years to show up.

There are two main types of skin cancer, melanoma and nonmelanoma. Melanoma is the most dangerous and rarest form of skin cancer. If it is caught early enough it is almost always curable, but still accounts for 75% of all skin cancer deaths worldwide. In fact, 132,000 new cases of melanoma are found each year. Melanoma is often found on the upper portion of men (shoulders and chest) and the lower legs of women, but can be found nearly anywhere on the body for both sexes. Nonmelanoma is what all of the other types of skin cancer are classified under.

The two main types are Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) and Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC). BCC often looks like open sores, red patches, or scars and are usually found on the head and neck. SCC often look like red patches, open sores, raised growths, or warts and are usually found on the face, neck, lips, and backs of the hands. Although either form can be found on any sun-exposed area of the body. Main Point 3: The last thing I want to talk about is the dangers of UVRs on the human eyes.

Eye damage is a huge risk factor when it comes to tanning. UVA penetrates to the back of the eye and UVB causes damage to the front of the eye, where the lens and cornea are located. There are many illnesses associated with the eyes; for example, cataracts, photokeratitis and skin cancer on the eyelids are very common. Cataracts are when a person has clouding of the lenses that affects their vision and eventually causes blindness. Photokeratitis is the burning of the cornea by UV radiation.

This is also called snowblindness because it is usually caused from the sun reflecting off the snow. It can also occur in a tanning bed because of the reflections off the other lights. Photokeratitis is only temporary, like a regular sun burn. Skin cancer of the eyelid is one of the most common places and is very dangerous because if it is not stopped, it can cause tissue damage which leads to blindness. In order to prevent getting any kind of disease in your eye, you must wear sunglasses with a UV protection of 400.

Conclusion: Today, I’ve talked about the negative effects of tanning by giving background facts about ultraviolet rays, how these UVs damage a person’s skin, and eyes. However, there are several simple precautions that you can take to lower the chance of being affected. Avoiding the peak sun hours (10-4) is important, considering that is when the sun is closest to the Earth and has the strongest UV rays. Sunscreen lotion is the simplest and most affective; SPF 15 is the minimum that should be used.

The accessories you use/wear will also be a huge help, for example: hats, sunglasses, and umbrellas. Using the most coverage for all three items will work best. Sunglasses or goggles are the most important factor when a person is in a tanning bed. Also, self skin examinations should be preformed often, as well as professional exams. If you have any moles that have changed color, shape, or size please see a doctor as soon as possible. If you have any questions or want more information about tanning in any sort, please contact WCU’s Health Center (610-436-2509).

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