Health Care and Tanning Beds

- May 13, 2013
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If you have ever had time in the sun, either for work or play or vacation, you know that unless you have a good tan, it is almost certain that without proper prevention for protection against the burning rays of the sun that you are going to get red skin, and a good burn. That’s why you need a sunscreen with a high SPF (Sun Protection Formula), especially if you are young.

Over time, in particular during the summer when the UV rays are at their peak and can cause the most damage, your level of tanning increases if you don’t have proper coverage of your skin. If you are interested in getting a good layer of tanned skin built up before being a sun worshipper during the hotter months of the year, then by all means start working your way up to a reasonable level without eventually looking like an old leather suitcase. Be smart about your tanning initiative.

According to, tanning beds and booths basically imitate the sun. The sun emits three kinds of UV rays (the ones that make you tan). UV-C has the shortest wavelength of the three, and is also the most harmful. The sun emits UV-C light, but then it's absorbed by the ozone layer and pollution. Tanning lamps filter out this type of UV light. UV-B, the middle wavelength, starts the tanning process, but overexposure can cause sunburn. UV-A has the longest wavelength, and it completes the tanning process. Tanning lamps use the best ratio of UV-B and UV-A light to provide optimal tanning results, with a lowered risk of overexposure.

When you tan at an indoor tanning facility, your skin produces a tan the same way it does when you lay out in the sun: through ultraviolet (UV) light. There is one important difference, though. When you are out in the sun, you cannot control the amount of UV light you are exposed to, because it is affected by changes in the atmosphere. Indoor tanning is one way to regulate the amount of UV light you are exposed to, because it is a controlled environment. You can gradually increase your exposure time to make sure you don't get a sunburn, which is harmful to the skin. More material about tanning beds can be found at this site: .

Indoor tanning beds would come with new warnings about the risk of cancer and be subject to more stringent federal oversight under a proposal unveiled Monday by the Food and Drug Administration, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle and many other major news outlets. The FDA has regulated tanning beds and sun lamps for over 30 years, but for the first time ever the agency says those devices should not be used by people under age 18. The agency wants that warning on the devices and pamphlets, catalogues and websites that promote indoor tanning. And regulators are also proposing that manufacturers meet certain safety and design requirements, including timers and limits on radiation emitted.

The government action is aimed at curbing cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, which have been on the rise for about 30 years. An estimated 2.3 million U.S. teenagers tan indoors each year, and melanoma is the second most common form of cancer among young adults, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Recent studies have shown that the risk of melanoma is 75 percent higher in people who have been exposed to ultraviolet radiation from indoor tanning.

While most cases are diagnosed in people in their 40s and 50s, the disease is linked to sun exposure at a young age. Physician groups have been urging the U.S. government to take action on tanning beds for years, citing increases in the number of cases of skin cancer among people in their teens and 20s. More information can be found at this website: .

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the FDA also says some people go too often, using tanning beds three times a week, for example, when its research shows once a week would provide visually the same tan. The tanning bed debate isn't an excuse to roast in the sun instead. Nor is melanoma the only risk. Also linked to UV exposure are basal and squamous cell carcinomas, which affect more than 1 million Americans a year.

They're usually easily removed but the American Cancer Society counts 2,000 annual deaths. Melanoma is more lethal: Nearly 69,000 U.S. cases were diagnosed last year, and about 8,650 people died. Fair-skinned people who don't tan easily are at highest risk. Melanoma is particularly linked to sunburns at a young age, and while it usually strikes in the 40s and 50s, doctors are seeing ever-younger cases. More information can be found at this website: .

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have published some interesting statistics on users of tanning beds and indoor tanning:

According to the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, the following proportions of youth report indoor tanning.

• 13% of all high school students.
• 21% of high school girls.
• 32% of girls in the 12th grade.
• 29% of white high school girls.

According to the 2010 National Health Interview Survey, indoor tanners tended to be young, non-Hispanic white women.

• 32% of non-Hispanic white women aged 18–21 years reported indoor tanning. Those who reported indoor tanning device use reported an average of 28 sessions in the past year.

• Among non-Hispanic white adults who used an indoor tanning device in the past year, 58% of women and 40% of men used one 10 times or more in the past year.

• Non-Hispanic white women between the ages of 18 and 21 years residing in the Midwest (44%) and non-Hispanic white women between the ages of 22 and 25 old in the South (36%) were most likely to use indoor tanning devices.

More information can be found at their website: .

The bottom line is that overuse of tanning beds is dangerous. It can lead to cancer over time if limited use is not followed, and those who are most at risk tend to be younger. When you are getting ready for the summer season and fun in the sun (or for any other special occasion), practice common sense when it comes to indoor tanning and the use of tanning beds. Protection of your skin is vitally important to your overall health.

Until next time.

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