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Miranda_ 06-23-2010 04:37 PM

Dying for a tan?
The Skin Cancer Foundation - The Dangers of Tanning | Tanning

The dangers of tanning

Ever since Coco Chanel declared tanning "in" in the 1920s, a suntan was seen as symbol of health, youth and status. However, recent studies on the relationship between the sun's ultraviolet rays (UVR) and our skin are changing the way we view that "healthy" glow.

What is tanning?

Tanning is the skin's reaction to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. When skin is exposed to UV rays, cells called melanocytes produce the brown pigment melanin, which darkens the cells of the epidermis. This darkening of the skin cells is the skin's natural – if imperfect – defense against further damage from UV radiation.

Is tanning bad for you?

The sun's UV rays damage the DNA of the skin's epidermal cells, triggering enzymes that race to repair the damage. However, these enzymes do not always repair the DNA successfully, and all this unrepaired damage can lead to mutations that increase the risk of skin cancer. Also, repeated unprotected sun exposure can cause photoaging – wrinkles, sagging skin, and spots associated with sun damage.

Does all UV radiation harm my skin?

Scientists dividethe solar UV spectrum into three wavelengths- UVA, UVB and UVC. Once, UVA and UVC were thought harmless, and only UVB was believed dangerous. UVC is still deemed no threat, since it is absorbed by the ozone layer. But UVA accounts for up to 95 percent of solar UVR reaching Earth. Though far less capable of causing sunburn than UVB, UVA is present during all daylight hours year round, while the amount of UVB in sunlight varies by season, location and time of day.
By the 1990's, scientists knew that UVA exacerbates the cancer-causing effects of UVB, and is the main wavelength behind photoaging. Recently, an Australian-U.S. study found that UVA may be more carcinogenic than UVB. It penetrates more deeply and causes more genetic damage in the skin cells (keratinocytes) where most skin cancers arise. The National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization now designate both UVA and UVB as causes of cancer.

Doesn't the melanin acquired through tanning actually protect my skin?

Darker skin does offer greater protection than light skin against sunburn and skin cancer. However, that applies only to people with naturally darker skin. Tanning, like sunburns, attacks the skin's DNA, producing genetic defects that may cause skin cancer.

Isn't getting sunburned more dangerous than getting tan?

Both are dangerous, because both result from DNA damage to the skin cells. It is true that sunburn has been directly linked to Cartoon Dolls - Doll maker and Dress up games to dress up dolls and avatars - Making Cartoon Dolls @ TDP – one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence, or five sunburns total over the course of one’s life, more than doubles a person's chances of developing melanoma later in life. It is usually thought that lifetime sun exposure is responsible for increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma, while both intense, intermittent sun exposure – the pattern that is traditionally linked to melanoma – and lifetime exposure are believed to be involved in the development of basal cell carcinoma. However, studies have also shown a marked increase in melanoma incidence in people who have developed either squamous cell carcinoma or basal cell carcinoma. Scientists are still trying to determine the exact exposure pattern behind the development of the different types of skin cancer, but it is safe to say that both burning and tanning play major roles in skin cancer.

Are tanning beds safer?

Tanning salon owners say tanning machines are safer than outdoor tanning for two reasons: 1) they mainly use UVA rays, and 2) they offer more "controlled" UV exposure. However, we know now that UVA is a carcinogen, and studies have revealed that tanning salons frequently exceed "safe" UV limits. Study after study has shown that sunbed tanning increases the risk of both melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers.

The facts bear out: There is no such thing as a safe tan. If you want to go brown, your best bet is to invest in a bottle of fake tan. Use sunblock, and try to stay out of the sun during the danger times of noon to 2pm.

Silent_Wolf 06-23-2010 05:20 PM

If you're wary of self-tanning lotions, I can personally recommend Jergens' line of lotions and self-tanners. I used it for a stint back when I really, really wanted to look like I actually went outside for more than five minutes at a time, and it worked - even on my legs, which refuse to tan OR burn. It also doesn't streak, either, which is great. The only downside is, well, your hands may look tanned. I suppose you could wear gloves when you apply it to prevent this.

They also have a line of self-tanners for the face; it actually has an SPF of 15 in it, as well, at least as far as I remember it does.

NotYourPrincess 06-23-2010 06:19 PM

Eh. One of my old teacher's dads helped design a tanning bed once, and he said that laying in a tanning bed is the equivalent of laying out in the dessert without any protection for a few hours.

Miranda_ 06-23-2010 06:24 PM

Even if you don't burn or get skin cancer, broiling yourself in the sun or on a sunbed will ensure that one day your skin will resemble leather. Wrinkled leather. Brown, wrinkled leather. O_o

I personally prefer to stay pale and interesting. I never go out in the sun without wearing 30+ sunblock.

spirit_queen 06-23-2010 06:34 PM

30? That's nothing; I need 50+ or I burn within half an hour.... WITH the sunblock.

I know this girl who went to my school who's naturally caucasian but has tanned herself so much that she's almost the same color as the girl whose parents are from India. O.o I find it gross, actually; a little kiss of sun is okay, but when you look like you're trying to become someone of another race it's a bit much. (Not that anyone of another race looks bad to me; on the contrary, they look quite nice with their caramel-colored and chocolate-colored skins. But caucasians aren't made to look like that. Ever.)

Miranda_ 06-23-2010 07:12 PM

Uh, 50+ is actually no different than 30+. It doesn't give you a free pass to stay in the sun.

» Sunscreen Myths | Women On Life

Allie picks up an SPF50 sunscreen while her sister Therese opts for an SPF15. Allie claims that she’ll be more protected from the sun and that Therese should go for the SPF50 as well. What do you think? Is she right?

The answer is both yes, and no. An SPF15 sunscreen will give you about 93% protection from UVB rays, while SPF30 will provide about 97% protection. Anything over SPF30 is basically a gimmick since it won’t really provide any additional coverage than the near-100% SPF30 will. While Therese could arguably upgrade to SPF30, going all the way up to SPF50 is unnecessary.

spirit_queen 06-23-2010 07:44 PM

So, then, I should just stay out of the sun in general. -.- I burn even with sunblock.

I hate my skin.

Miranda_ 06-23-2010 07:53 PM

Wear hats and loose clothing, and stay in the shade a lot. It's what I do; anyway, being in direct sunshine just gives me a headache. -.-

spirit_queen 06-23-2010 08:06 PM

I usually feel fine in the sun, but at night I'll find that my skin is a bright pink color. O.o Since my dad and my maternal grandfather both have skin-cancer, I avoid the sun now. some people make fun of how pale I am, some people are in awe of how pale I am; I tell them tat I don't tan, and that I don't want to get cancer trying. -.-

Miranda_ 06-24-2010 06:56 AM

Pale looks a lot better than being brown and wrinkly, or bright orange. O_o This girl who I used to go to college with, used to use sunbeds, and her skin was orange. She looked like she'd been Tangoed. But she thought she looked so healthy and great. -.-

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