Tanning Booths and Skin Cancer – Beware the Dangers of Melanoma
There is social pressure in society about having that perfect tan. Some people are blessed with having naturally dark skin or that beautiful olive skin tone that darkens when in the sun in the summer and lightens a bit in the winter months. Others of us have that “cursed” fair skin that freckles or just plain burns when in the sun too long. The type of skin color you have is determined by the amount of melanin, or dark pigment in the skin. The more melanin you have, the darker you are. Likewise, the less melanin you have, the lighter you are. Usually, people with fair hair like blond or red and who have blue or green eyes fall into the fair skin category. People with darker hair like brown or black and who have brown eyes usually have darker skin. Of course there are combinations of all these, but it is all genetic traits passed down through your parents that give us these characteristics.
So for the “cursed” fair skin person, how do you fit into the “tanned” society? Well, maturity and education would tell you really can’t. There isn’t a magic wand that will make your skin tanner. But there are tanning beds that can help give you that tan you’ve always wanted. It is important to understand that a tanning bed, which on an average day has more than 1 million users across the US, gives off the same harmful UVA and UVB (ultraviolet A & B) rays as being in the sun. UVB rays are the ultraviolet rays that give you a sun burn, while the UVA rays are the ones that cause the change in the skin cells, which leads to an increase in potential skin cancer. Science has proven indoor tanning to increase the instances of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.
You might wonder what exactly melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer is. There are basically three types of skin cancer: Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, and Melanoma. Melanoma is the more serious of the skin cancers and develops in the melanocytes in the epidermis. Melanocytes are the cells that give your skin its color. It spreads very quickly, but is still treatable if caught early, having a cure rate of about 95%. However, if left untreated and if it spreads into the lymph system or into your internal organs, melanoma can be fatal. In the United States alone, someone dies from melanoma every hour! Basal and Squamous Cell Carcinoma are the more common skin cancer types and are highly treatable.
So what does all this mean for the person who wants to be tan? Indoor tanning increases the chances of developing melanoma (the more serious skin cancer!). So if you still want that perfect tan, make sure you have educated yourself on all the risks involved. Keep in mind that you aren’t just damaging your skin as far as cancer goes, you are also aging it as well. Don’t we all get old too fast anyway?