One look at the leathery face of the mother accused of letting her small daughter tan makes it clear that too much tanning can be a problem. Most people who tan regularly do not go to such extremes, though. In fact, many people still believe that a light tan is harmless and even makes them look healthier and more attractive, but there are powerful reasons why a tanning obsession is far from healthy. Here are five facts that should make you think twice before you slip into that tanning booth again.
1. WHO Has Labeled Tanning Beds a Carcinogen
The World Health Organization ranks tanning beds and other tanning devices right along with such things as asbestos and tobacco products, calling them all carcinogens, which is a fancy word for something that is known to cause cancer. So use your favorite tanning salon with caution. That weekly tan, although it may feel good at the time, may be causing long-term skin damage that could lead to skin cancer.
2. Cancer is Only Part of the Story
Doctors and other health groups discourage the use of tanning beds for a number of reasons. Tanning causes a whole host of health problems, including skin and eye damage and suppression of the immune system. It also accelerates aging and spurs the development of allergies. Get out in the real sun if you enjoy getting tan.
3. Tanning Can Become an Addiction
Tanning is hardly the first thing that comes to mind when the word addiction is mentioned. However, ultraviolet light improves mood, creates a sense of relaxation and even triggers the release of natural opiates in the brain. These powerful rewards set tanners up to becoming addicted to what seems like a harmless activity. If you have trouble leaving the tanning spa alone in spite of the dangers, there are steps you can take to make breaking the habit easier. If you’re struggling with a tanning addiction, you can learn more here about the recovery process.
4. Indoor Tanning is Worse than Outdoor Tanning
Many people believe that tanning booths are safer than sunbathing, but the truth is that the damaging rays produced by a tanning unit can be as much as 15 times stronger than those produced by the hottest sun of the day. Even a half hour of indoor tanning equates to many hours of sunbathing, which many people don’t understand. If you go tanning often, consider switching to laying outside.
5. Tanning Can Kill You
Recently released statistics reveal that the use of tanning beds and booths contribute to nearly 200,000 diagnosed cases of squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma, two types of skin cancer. Additionally, it takes less than a year’s worth of weekly tans to raise your risk of developing melanoma by 55 percent. For people under thirty, those same forty tans translate to a 75 percent increase in risk. If percentages make your eyes glaze over, consider that these figures translate into more than 12,000 deaths each year from deadly skin cancers.
This article was written by Dixie Somers and coauthored by Stanley Martinson. Dixie is a freelance writer and a part-time blogger who enjoys writing about home, health, and family topics.