Tanning Beds Increase Risk for Premature Aging and Cancer
By Stephanie Guler - Senior Content & Social Media Developer | October 7th, 2011
Summer is now behind us, and with winter fast approaching, many of you will be tempted to prolong your summertime glow by visiting a tanning salon.
While the evidence is clear that tanning causes irreversible damage to the skin in the form of sunspots, wrinkles, sagging, and skin cancer, people continue to seek out that so-called “healthy” glow year round.
It’s commonly believed that sunlight from UVB rays is the main culprit causing skin damage, and that UVA rays (the light used in tanning beds) were always thought to be fairly risk-free.
But a recent study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology serves as a warning to sun worshipers: UVA rays actually cause a very substantial risk for skin cancer.
The reason is because UVA rays penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin, which damages the skin’s DNA, increasing the risk for cell mutation, which is notorious for morphing into cancer.
This type of damage to the skin is far worse than surface layer damage because according to study results, the cancer risk is quite prevalent, even in those who never burn.
Professor Anthony Young, the co-author of the study at King’s College School of Medicine in London told the UK’s Telegraph, “In the past, UVA has been written off as not very serious to the skin. What we are saying is that UVA does cause significant damage to DNA in the skin especially in the base layer, and that is where the damage is important. Damage to the upper layers is not so important because those layers are in the process of dying, whereas damage to a dividing cell is more worrying.”
The researchers hope to capture people’s attention about tanning beds because of this very fact. Not only do they threaten your youth and appearance, but they also put your life at serious risk.
“Indoor tanning is like smoking for your skin. It’s the single worst thing you can do in terms of skin cancer and premature aging,” advised Dr. Doris Day, a dermatologist in New York City.
She told HealthDay News that the claims of tanning salons are completely bogus. Some salons advertise indoor tanning as a vitamin D booster, but Dr. Day said, “This is nonsense and an excuse. We know people burn in tanning beds and that UVA and UVB are toxic.’
This study came out at a very poignant time for the field of dermatology.
Currently in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration is thinking about banning the use of tanning beds for people under the age of 18. The American Academy of Pediatrics, and many dermatologists support this effort.
Protecting teens from tanning beds (an obvious cause of skin cancer) should be a given. The government already bans tobacco and alcohol for minors, why? Because they are so vulnerable to making poor decisions, not thinking about the long-term consequences.
Dr. Day said, “They are immortal in their mind, and skin cancer and aging seem a long ways away.” She also added that Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, “is not an old person’s disease.”
The FDA has been considering the tanning bed ban since 2001, and industry experts hope that this study will give the government agency that extra push they need to put the regulation into effect.
Now that scientists know more about the true damaging power the sun’s rays possess, it’s vital that people understand the real risks associated with tanning.
Dr. Heidi A. Waldorf, director of Laser and Cosmetic Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City told HealthDay, “This finding fits with our understanding of UVA as the deeper penetrating ‘aging’ rays. The data is important as we discuss regulatory changes in the labeling of broad-spectrum sun protection products and as we educate patients, particularly young women, about the dangers of indoor UVA tanning beds.”
So, the next time you have the urge to go tanning, think about your future, your youth, and your heath. Are the risks of tanning really worth the long-term consequences?
The answer, according to science, is no.
Although experts agree, there’s nothing wrong with slapping on some sunscreen and enjoying the outdoors, for the sake of your skin, don’t forget to reapply!
This article was written by the medical research team at WhereismyDoctor.com
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