A story making the news rounds caught our eye recently. A long-time tanning bed devotee posted a graphic selfie featuring her face with some pretty severe looking damage, which she said was a direct result of her time spent in tanning beds during her teen years. After being diagnosed with two types of skin cancer, the 20-something’s candid shot of her treatment has put a, well, face, on the disease and given others something to think about.
Her story sheds light on the horrific damage tanning beds can cause. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tanning booths and beds can cause melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. The World Health Organization has even said that tanning beds should be put in the same category as tobacco in terms of cancer causation. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, more than 30 million people use artificial tanning each year, and 2.3 million are teens.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has declared May as Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, so at AFC Doctors Express, we wanted to talk about the dangers of artificial tanning and the damage it can do to your skin.
Strangely enough, people often associate tan skin with youth and vitality, but that’s simply not the case. According to the CDC, tanning beds cause:
- Premature wrinkles and age spots
- Eye damage, resulting in blindness
- Changes to the skin’s texture
In addition, people often mistakenly think that artificial sun is more healthy or better for you than real sun. Studies have found that those exposed to UV rays through indoor tanning have a 59 percent increased risk of melanoma.
The myth of the base tan is another piece of misinformation floating around. Just like a sunburn, a tan is actually evidence of damage to the skin. A base tan does nothing to protect you from further damage to your skin; sunscreen and other precautions do!
For a safer tan, your best bet is a sunless or spray tan. You’ll have the color you’re looking for without the damage to your skin. Next week, we’ll talk about some ways to stay safe while outdoors in the sun. Hint: Use sunscreen!