Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Is Being Tan for A Week Worth It When It Comes With A Greater Risk for Melanoma?

For those of you who still think being tan is in vogue, you might want to stop and listen.  Especially for those of you who are regular visitors to the local tanning salons.  In fact a new study finds that melanoma is on the rise, in particular in young women.  And it looks as though tanning and tanning beds might be one of the reasons for this rise in skin cancer.

According to the Mayo Clinic, women under 40 years of age are the hardest hit by skin cancer.  From 1970 to 2009 the numbers increased eightfold among women and fourfold for men, from ages 18-39.  The study went on to explore behaviors that might increase risks for melanoma, and voluntary exposure to artificial sunlamps was found to be prevalent among the females studied.

At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention they explained concern about “melanoma rates and the damage done by early exposure to sun, but also the increasing use of tanning beds.”  While many types of cancers are on the decline, melanoma seems to be on the rise.

According to the National Institutes of Health, excess exposure to ultraviolet light increases risk for all skin cancers.  UV light is invisible radiation that can damage DNA in the skin and can be generated from sunlight, sunlamps and tanning beds.  People with fair skin are at greater risk, as they have less pigmentation to protect the body from UV radiation.  Other risk factors include severe sunburns as a child, unusual number of moles, a family history of melanoma and exposure to UV light.  Symptoms include changes in an existing mole or development or an unusual growth on your skin. 

The tanning industry defends that tanning lamps do not increase risks.  They state there is no consensus among researchers regarding melanoma and UV exposure from the sun or a tanning bed. 

For some reason, despite the questions surrounding the safety of the sun for our skin and melanoma, people still think we look healthier and more beautiful if we are tan.  Young women everywhere are still eager to get tan before the prom, to get an early start for their beach vacations or to look less pale in the dreary days of winter.  Perhaps they need to stop and think about what this is worth to them.  Tan for a day or a week versus being healthy and skin cancer-free for a lifetime? Seems like a simple answer to me.

Koach Marlo

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