Thinking about Tanning Indoors before that Sunny Vacation?
With Spring Break just around the corner, many college kids are hitting the tanning salons to get some color before that trip to Cabo, Lake Havasu, or some other sunny, water-filled destination. It appears many young adults—despite likely having been told the negative effects of too much UV exposure—seem unaware the extent of damage and risk associated with tanning indoors (A single session in a tanning bed increases that user’s chances of developing melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer—by twenty percent, with each additional session during the same year tacking on an additional two percent…YIKES!). Teens and adults alike continue to hit these cancer-causing UV beds to achieve that bronzed glow, and one reason may be several widespread rumors circulating about the “benefits” of indoor tanning. Here are some common myths addressed by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that may surprise you:
- “Tanning indoors is safer than tanning in the sun.”
- Not true. Any type of tanning that exposes the body to UV radiation is dangerous, whether it’s outside or in a bed with glowing florescent bulbs. Some argue that because these beds are regulated by a timer, this form of tanning is somehow safer. This is not the case. Levels of exposure in tanning beds can vary based on the type and age of the bulbs, and despite being timed, indoor tanners are still susceptible to sunburn. Even in the absence of a sunburn, a tan—no matter how you got it—is still skin damage.
- “Indoor tanning is a safe way to get Vitamin D, which prevents many health problems.”
- Again, false. No one is arguing that Vitamin D isn’t important, or that it doesn’t lead to improved health, because it does and it can. In fact, Vitamin D is essential for bone health, and studies suggest the Vitamin can help protect against colds, and aid in fighting depression. The argument here is that there are safer ways to get your Vitamin D fix rather than exposing your body to extreme levels of a known carcinogen. So how can you get Vitamin D without harming your body? Through foods like fish (salmon, trout, halibut and tuna are all good sources), eggs (make sure you include the yolks!), mushrooms (Dole’s Portobello Mushrooms are grown in ultraviolet light, making them Vitamin D-packed), fortified products such as milk and certain cereals (Multi Grain Cheerios anyone?), and through supplements.
- “I can use a tanning bed to get a base tan, which will protect me from getting a sunburn.”
- False! According to a study published in the journal of Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine, researchers looked at 163 college students who had gone on sunny spring break trips, and found that the ones who had tanned indoors before their trip were more likely to return home with a sunburn than those who didn’t tan beforehand. The bottom line: a tan is your body’s defensive response to DAMAGE being done to the DNA in your skin cells. The only way to protect from a sunburn is to take measures to actively shield your body from UV rays completely. The best way to do this? Wear clothing and accessories that protect against UV rays, like UV Skinz line of UPF 50+ certified sunwear. Other recommendations include seeking the shade during peak midday hours (10 AM – 4 PM), applying a broad spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher to all exposed areas at least 15 minutes before exposure (remember to reapply!)….oh yeah….and avoid tanning beds year round!