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The Dangers of Tanning


        Tanning indoors or outdoors can have dangerous consequences. Even the tiniest amount of sun exposure may be too much. Ultraviolet rays are always present whether you are intentionally laying in the sun or laying in an indoor tanning bed. You need to protect yourself from harmful ultraviolet rays. The tanning glow is the opposite of healthy. Ultraviolet rays damage your skin cells, speed up visible signs of aging, and make you more vulnerable to skin cancer.

        The two main causes of skin cancer are outdoor tanning from the sun’s harmful UV rays, and indoor tanning from UV tanning machines. Skin cancer is the out of control growth of abnormal cells in the epidermis, the outermost skin layer, caused by unrepaired DNA damage that triggers mutations. These mutations lead skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. The main types of skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. The good news is that if skin cancer is caught early, it can be treated.

        There is no such thing as a safe or healthy tan. Tanning increases your risk of basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Just one indoor or outdoor tanning session can increase the risk of developing skin cancer. The best thing you can do is to avoid tanning altogether. Tanning is caused by exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun or tanning beds that causes genetic damage to cells on your outmost layer of skin. The skin then tries to prevent further injury by producing melanin, the pigment that gives our skin color, that results in the darkening that we call a tan. According to, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. Worldwide, there are more skin cancers due to indoor tanning than there are lung cancers due to smoking.

        Tanning changes and ages your skin. It is a visible sign of damage that accelerates the appearance of wrinkles and dark spots. If you develop skin cancer from tanning, you further risk changes to your appearance. Skin damage starts with your very first tan. Each time you tan, the damage builds up, creating more genetic mutations and a greater risk for skin cancer. Some people think indoor tanning beds are not as harmful as the sun, but that is false. Tanning indoors or outdoors is both equally dangerous. Tanning beds do not offer a safe alternative to sunlight and they raise the risk of skin cancers. One study from found that 61 of 63 women diagnosed with melanoma before age 30 used tanning beds, that’s 97 percent of them.  Ultraviolet rays in tanning beds increase your risk of developing melanoma.

        Some people think getting a “base tan” from indoor tanning is a good way to prevent burning if they plan on being on a tropical vacation or outdoors for a long period of time. This is not recommended. Tanning does not protect against sun burn; it just exposes you to more harmful ultraviolet rays. The best way to prevent sun burn is to stay in the shade, wear protective clothing and a hat, and apply sunscreen every day. Avoid tanning entirely if you can, it is the best way to protect against unhealthy skin damage.

        Practice sun safety if you are going to be out in the sun. The sun is your skin’s worst enemy. Always wear protective clothing and sunscreen, not just when you are going to the beach. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and the skin around them. Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 50+. Try to stay in the shade as much as possible, especially between 10am and 4pm. Once again, avoid voluntary sun exposure. Your tan is not worth the damage you are doing to your skin.

        If you want that golden glow, consider sunless tanning products. There are many options that can give you a bronzed look, but you will still need sun protection. Exercise to have radiant skin. Working out makes you look and feel good. Drink lots of water and eat unprocessed foods, your skin will thank you for this.  Tanning is harmful, make healthy skin a way of life.

Samantha Durst

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