We all know that too much of one thing could eventually be a bad thing. Smoke too much and get emphysema. Eat too much high fat and salty foods–and you are diagnosed with high cholesterol. Eat too many unhealthy foods and you will become over-weight. Stay out too long in the sun without the proper protection and you will get sunburned or worse skin cancer.  Buy one of those nifty tanning salon packages and you increase your risk of skin cancer.

Tanning beds are already linked to melanoma. The World Health Organization list tanning beds in its highest risk group of things that cause cancer, calling it a human carcinogen. They recommend children do not use them. All over the country the debate on the legal age a minor should be able to tan with and without parental permission has been big this past year.  According to the World Health Organization, 30 million people in the U.S. use tanning beds. A study published in the Journal of The American Academy of Dermatology finds that  the use of a tanning beds before the age of 30 increases the risk of skin cancer and early-onset basal cell carcinoma (bcc) by 75%.

The study was conducted at the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Connecticut. Led by Susan T. Mayne, Senior author of the study and professor at the School of Public Health. She says in a statement  that; “Indoor tanning was strikingly common in our study of young skin cancer patients, especially in the women, which may partially explain why 70 percent of early-onset BCCs are in females.”  It’s not surprising that the rate of skin cancer and BCC’s are more common in females. The majority of TV, print and media ads are geared toward making women believe that healthy beautiful skin is linked to having a tan.

Melanoma rates in general have been rising for the past 3 decades. Those who tanned vigorously in the 80’s are now reaping the benefits of skin cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that 70,230 people will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer. Melanoma accounts for only 5% of skin cancer cases, but causes the majority of death. The only way to reduce the incidence of skin cancer (bcc) and melanoma is to reduce indoor tanning. It’s a tricky subject since most people only learn from trial and error. It’s down right scary. I wonder all the time what can be done? How will those that choose to tan by the use of tanning salons or the sun learn that it is dangerous. Sure a healthy dose of sunlight is needed for the sake of Vitamin D production, but excess tanning and sun exposure will only lead to trouble…

How can the mindset that tanning creates beauty be eliminated?: 

  • Love the skin you’re in! Each and every one of us was created the way we were supposed to be. Trying to morph ourselves into what we aren’t disrupts our natural beauty.
  • Use sunless tanning lotions or spray tans. If you must have that year round “bronze glow” then use a fake-n-bake. Studies have shown that the use of sunless tanning lotions decreases your chance of developing skin cancer.
  • Research the dangers. There is a ton on information out there. Sometimes you can’t rely on what other people are telling you–Educate yourself and your family. Teach your children at an early age to be sun safe.
  • Cherish your life! We only get one.
  • Think about your loved ones. (Notice a trend?) Nothing should come down to life and death when you have a choice. Tanning is a choice.