Tanning beds promise consumers a bronzed body all year-round, but the ultraviolet radiation from these devices pose serious health risks. Is it really worth it? Ask Brittany Lietz Cicala. She started using indoor tanning beds at the age of seventeen. By the age of twenty Brittany was diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. In the four years since she was diagnosed with melanoma, she has been left with about twenty-five scars and has to get a head to toe skin examination every three months, which usually results in removal of a suspicious growth ("Indoor tanning: The risk of ultraviolet rays"). Like Brittany, many people don't know exposure to UV (ultra violet) radiation damages the skin and increases the risk of developing cancer. The risk can be different for everybody, depending on age, length in minutes you go and how often you go determines your risk of developing skin cancer or the harmful other effects of tanning. There are even laws protecting minors because tanning has become so dangerous. People think they need to live up to certain standards and try to be someone their not and even though there are ways to avoid developing skin cancer, some people think "it won't happen to me" so they don't feel the need to take the precautions. Not only do tanning beds pose a serious health risk, they also cause unattractive skin spots, wrinkles and saggy-ness. There are ways to avoid these harmful affects, but you have to take control and take the necessary precautions.
You must be wondering how this tanning bed chaos all started. A little history behind the tanning bed, A German medical company called Heraeus created the first tanning lamp in 1903 by accident as part of a research they were doing to help people with vitamin D deficiency. Friedrich Wolff conducted an experiment in the early 1970's using tanning lamps to see what the potential effects of sunlight would have on athletes. When he noticed his subjects becoming tanner, that's when the idea came to him. In 1978 Friedrich Wolff patented his lamps and named his company Wolff systems. Surprisingly having tan skin wasn't always considered a good thing, which is kind of hard to believe considering everyone now days is talking about how much they can't wait for summer to get here so they can start sun bathing without having to come into a salon. Believe it or not pre-20th century, only the working class had tan skin. Higher classes thought a tan was tacky, ugly and actually used skin whitening products and wore lengthy clothing to avoid having tanned skin ("Indoor tanning beds"). Considering all of the harmful effects of tanning, the higher class had the right idea by not by not following in the lower class's steps.
In order to understand the harmful effects of UV rays you need to first know what they are. There are two different types of UV rays, UV-B and UV-A. The difference between the two would be UV-B rays penetrate the top layer of the skin, which is less harmful than UV-A rays which penetrate the deeper layers of skin. Both UV-B and UV-A rays are emitted by the sun and tanning beds, although tanning beds mostly emit UV-A rays, the sunlamps used in them emit UV-A that is twelve times that of the sun (Zagata). What exactly is a tan? According to Sharon Miller, an expert on UV radiation and tanning, "A tan is the skin's reaction to exposure to UV rays; your skin recognizes exposure to the rays as an insult so the skin acts in self-defense by producing more melanin, a pigment that darkens the skin. Over time, this damage will lead to prematurely aged skin and, in some cases, skin cancer." The only way to avoid this type of harm to your DNA and skin is to just not tan at all, limit your time in the sun and always use sunscreen.
One of the harmful effects of using a tanning bed is the increased risk of developing skin cancer. Studies show that the people who use tanning beds were seventy-four percent more likely to develop melanoma. A shocking 30 million people in the United States use tanning beds ("Tanning beds may raise common cancer risk 70 percent"). Although used for different reasons, such a medical device or just to get that "sun kissed" skin, the tanning bed still emits UV rays that are harmful to your body which is the reason medical experts want stronger regulations on use of tanning beds. In addition to tanning beds increasing the risk of developing certain cancers such as: squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, and cancer of the eye, there are also many other risks involved including: premature aging, immune suppression, eye damage, allergic reactions and DNA damage ("Indoor tanning: the risk of ultraviolet rays"). UV radiation harms skin's cell DNA because if an irreparable injury occurs the cell switches on a pathway for self-destruction, also called apoptosis (Zagata). All use of tanning beds increases the risk of skin cancer, but certain practices are especially dangerous, these include: Not wearing goggles, which can lead to eye damage. Starting with long exposure because you could end up getting burnt and tanning while using certain medications or cosmetics.
Even though there are a lot of cons to using a tanning bed, could a tan ever be a good thing? Tanning salons send out the message that a tan offers protection against a sunburn, for example say someone is going on a vacation and they don't want to worry about putting on sunscreen during their vacation, so a couple weeks before they leave they come into a tanning salon and "build up" their tan because they think having a baseline tan will protect them from getting sun burnt. What really happens is the individual gets a false sense of security, stays out in the sun longer without using sunscreen and ends up getting sun burnt because a tan only offers so little protection. Â So can tanning ever be a good thing? The answer is no, tanning in no way, shape or form is good for you. Tanning comes with serious health risks and the low level of protection offered by a tan is far outweighed by the damage incurred in its development so it's not even worth it (Wang). Next time you go on vacation, just take the smart way out and always use sunscreen, it will better your life in the long run and you won't have to ever worry about the sun causing skin cancer on your body.
Television and magazines have set a new standard for teenage girls or just the public in general. Now everyone wants to have that peachy glow to their skin. People see all the celebrities having nice dark skin and think to themselves "I want to look like that!" This is the reason tanning becomes especially popular right before big events such as a birthday party, or even prom because girls want to look their best and feel like a celebrity! Unfortunately the teenage girls who want to have that beautiful bronzed body will have to wait until their eighteenth birthday! As of 2012 a new law was created, anyone under the age of eighteen cannot use a tanning bed under any circumstances. In 2011 those the ages of twelve through seventeen could tan with permission from their parents. What are the reasons behind changing this law? Skin experts say teenagers face a much higher risk of skin disease than adults do, especially when they use tanning beds. Tanning is a rising epidemic and the leading cause of cancer death for women between ages twenty-five through twenty-nine (Thompson). In order to stop this rising epidemic the government had to step in and re-think the laws about tanning because it's getting out of control. The government is doing all they can to protect teenagers from getting into this habit of using tanning beds, so maybe they will set higher expectations for the younger kids in their generation.
Everyone eventually grows old, there is no way to stop that, but do you want to speed up the process? A lot of young girls in their 20's are coming to tanning salons and only thinking about how good they are going to look after they become tan but little do they know, not only does tanning increase your risk of developing cancer, it also causes age spots, makes you look older and damages skin in a way that nobody wants to look. Over the years as you tan your skin is overexposed to UV, the rays can cause very dark areas of the skin. The skin my also turn red from the swelling of blood vessels. Both of these things contribute greatly to the skin looking more aged over time ("Does tanning cause skin wrinkles?"). Every time your skin gets burned from a tanning bed the effects are permanent. Over exposure to UV rays can cause the skin to lose its flexibility and become saggy, therefor using a tanning bed may cause wrinkles and fine lines to appear on the delicate areas of the face, such as the area around the eyes ("How sunbed tanning affects wrinkles"). Tanning causes weird looking brown spots to form on your skin, formally known as age spots. You don't necessarily get them because you're aging, but because of how much time you spend in the sun. The better word for them would be sun spots. According to Dr. Eric F. Bernstein, these little spots form because our skin has what is called 'melanin pigment' which helps protect our skin from UV rays by turning it a tan color. The more time you spend in the sun the darker you get from your body trying to protect your skin as you get older our skin's natural ability to fend off UV rays from the sun begins to deteriorate, and as a result, we see the development of age spots. These age spots can become cancerous, and it is recommended if one of these age spots is turning colors and or changing shapes you should go to the dermatologist and get it checked out because you don't want to wait until it's too late and the cancer spreads to other parts of your body.
Now, the most important thing of all. Are there ways to avoid getting skin cancer? The answer would be yes. There a couple of things you can do to minimize or even eliminate your chances of developing skin cancer. Everyone should always use sun screen, all the time. It is recommended that every time your skin sees sunlight, you have sunscreen on. Now it may be a pain in butt to have to put on sunscreen everyday but it's definitely worth it in the long run. The easiest way to remember your daily dose of sunscreen is to buy a moisturizer with sunscreen in it, then when you wake up in the morning put on your lotion and you will all set for the day with moisturized and protected skin. Another thing, don't spend large amounts of time in the sun. Try avoiding doing this as much as possible because the more time you spend in the sun the higher you are at risk for developing skin cancer or sun spots. If you have no choice and are forced to stay in the sun for a long time there are things you can do to help. Some people think an umbrella is only used for the rain; well an umbrella can also be used for the sun too! If there is so shade available an umbrella is a great way to block the sun from hitting your skin. Last but not least, stay out of tanning beds! Don't risk your life just for a tan. There are alternatives likes a spray tan! Take all of these necessary precautions and you are on the right path to avoid skin cancer ("Ways to prevent skin cancer-sun safety").
Tanning my have not always been popular in the early 1900's, but as time progresses it seems as if tanning is becoming more and more popular. There are so many different risks involved with tanning such as: Skin cancer, cancer of the eye, pre-mature aging, skin saggy-ness and even sun spots. All of these risks are caused by the UV lamps that are in the tanning bed. Even though some people may think tanning won't hurt them or it will give them a little bit of protection from getting sun burnt in the future, they are wrong. Tanning is never a good thing. They even made a new law as of 2012 banning minors from using tanning beds because it's becoming so dangerous. The only way you can protect yourself from getting skin cancer is to never use tanning beds, minimize amount of time spent in the sun and ALWAYS wear sunscreen! Â Â
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