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Risking it for Beauty: The Dangers of Tanning Beds

posted Apr 30, 2014, 6:06 PM by Unknown user   [ updated May 1, 2014, 8:12 AM by Unknown user ]

Abby Shroll

As the school year draws to an end and the eager month of May approaches, prom is just around the corner. Dress? Check. Shoes? Check. Tan? In progress, for many. More and more girls seek out a tan through various outlets before the anticipated night. Some use self-tanner, others get spray tans, and with increased popularity, many seem to be drawn to using tanning beds.

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Tanning beds have become a part of our culture; take the MTV reality show Jersey Shore for example, where the stars of the show use the term GTL (Gym, Tan, Laundry). In the show, the importance of tanning is vocalized to be vital in one’s appearance. Numerous people are more than happy to include tanning beds into a part of their beauty regimen, but those who do so should be aware of the various effects involving the use of tanning beds.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, using tanning beds before the age of 35 increases the risk of developing melanoma (the most deadly form of skin cancer) by 75%. In a tanning bed, UVA and UBA rays are emitted. UVA rays have been known to produce a deeper perforating radiation, and UBA rays have been linked to sunburn effects.

The most commonly known danger from tanning beds is cancer, predominantly squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Constant damage to the epithelial cells of skin increases the risk of melanoma. UVA and UBA rays can also damage DNA and cause skin cancer.

Not only is skin cancer a factor, but tanning beds can cause cancer of the eye as well (ocular melanoma). Eye damage and irritability  can also occur from the exposure of UV rays. Other adverse effects to the eyes can include cataracts and corneal burns from prolonged exposure.

Dawn Holman (behavioral scientist for CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control) stated,"The ultraviolet rays from indoor tanning are generally stronger than the summer sun at noon.” She emphasizes that people need to be aware of the extent of danger resulting from tanning beds.

Tanning beds can also lead to premature aging. Tanning can cause the skin to lose elasticity, resulting in a premature wrinkling and leathery appearance, which can take years to become visible.

As a result of UBA rays, the body’s immune system can also become damaged, and proper functions can be repressed. This takes away a lot of the body’s natural defenses and leaves the body more susceptible to diseases, including skin cancer.

A beneficial aspect to tanning beds is the promotion of Vitamin D, especially during the winter. Second to real exposure, small doses from a tanning bed can aid  Vitamin D deficiency and help fight against things such as depression and autoimmune disease.  

If one is to continue use tanning beds despite the proposed risks, there are some safety precautions one can take: use sunscreen and moisturizer, wear eye protection such as goggles, and limit exposure to an allotted amount of time. It is recommended to seek a low pressure, electronic ballast tanning bed as it delivers more UBA than UVA rays.

Other alternatives to tanning beds are self-tanners, which can be purchased at any drug store or supermarket. Places like Wal-Mart offer many efficient and cheap self-tanners. Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer is a great option that offers a gradual tan every time the product is applied. Another self-tanner that is effective is Neutrogena Build a Tan Gradual Sunless Tanning Lotion.

Professional spray tans are another option available to those who wish to avoid the adverse effects of tanning beds. There are many places in Findlay that provide sunless tanning, like Tan Pro USA. No appointment is needed and a spray tans cost only $10 for first time users.

Prom is a time to get dressed up and looking great, and for many, the finishing touch to this look is having an enviable bronzed glow. But it is important to consider the possible risks to your health, so keep in mind the other options, and stay safe while looking your best!