The Price of Tan Skin

Every day, thousands of teens are paying to risk their lives. Their weapon of choice: tanning beds.

According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, a person’s chances of getting melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, increase 74 percent after using a tanning bed just once.

M.D, associate professor of dermatology and vice chair of cosmetic and dermatologic surgery, Ellen Marmur, told Glamour magazine, “When I see a woman with bronzed skin, I look at it the way you might picture the inside of a smoker’s lungs.”

Tanning salons seem to be the newest fad; a social trend girls can do with their friends. Tanning is “sexy” and “cool” just as smoking once was.

Cassey Graeff, a freshman at Bloomsburg University who tans, said that in a way tanning is a social trend because most people don’t want to go downtown by themselves and would rather ask a friend.

It is not uncommon to be walking around campus and hear girls talking about saving their quarters for tanning. Local salon, Darkside Tanning Co. advertises its convenient coin acceptors on equipment.

At least 16 tanning salons can be found in a Google search of Bloomsburg alone.

It is hard to tell whether young girls are unaware of the risks, or if they are simply ignoring them.

Graeff said, “I don’t think a lot of people think about it. I think they just do it without really looking into the consequences.”

It is possible that many girls are just being misled. The Skin Cancer Foundation discussed a recent study from this year, conducted by The House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The Committee pretended to be “fair-skinned teenage girls” when contacting 300 tanning salons. The results were alarming.

The Committee found that 90 percent of the salons claimed that tanning beds did not present a health risk. Fifty-one percent of the salons said that the caller had no risk of developing skin cancer. They called such allegations to be simply “myths.” Seventy-eight percent of the salons said that tanning would be beneficial to the caller’s health.

When Darkside Tanning Co. in Bloomsburg was called and asked about potential risks, the response was, “We usually don’t discuss that over the phone, and I will be going out of the area soon.” They then suggested contacting another salon.

The Committee also found that, “Tanning salons target teenage girls in their advertisements.” They try to lure girls in with prom and back to school specials. However, most of the girls that develop melanoma do before they turn 30 years old.

The Skin Cancer Foundation said, “FDA classifies tanning beds as Class 1 medical devices, which suggests that they are safe.” The SCF thinks that it is crucial for the FDA to reclassify tanning beds. Cigarettes also fall into the category of Class 1.

Tanning salons in Bloomsburg, such as Darkside Tanning Co. and Ultimate Tan, describe their services as “luxurious,” “rich” and “relaxing.”

(advertised on Darkside Tanning Co. website)

Any dermatologist would agree that there is nothing luxurious, rich or relaxing about melanoma, “A tan is essentially your skin cells screaming, ‘Ouch!’” Marmur told Glamour magazine.

The Skin Cancer Foundation said that, “Frequent tanners using new-high pressure sunlamps may receive as much as 12 times the annual UVA dose compared to the dose they receive from sun exposure.”

The New York Times said people continue tanning, “with nearly 30 million Americans tanning indoors every year, and more than a million visiting tanning salons on an average day.”

Tanning is quickly becoming the new smoking in many ways, and it is highly addictive.

The New York Times posted, “People who frequently use tanning beds experience changes in brain activity during their tanning sessions that mimic the patterns of drug addiction.” Their study concluded that, “The brain is in fact responding to UV light, and it responds in areas that are associated with reward.”

Graeff says that tanning isn’t addictive for her but, “I’ve talked to a lot of people who all they want to do is tan when they’re already tan.”

It is easy to get hooked when there are salons in Bloomsburg that are open 24/7. Rather than having to wait for the sun to come out, a student could tan in the middle of the night in the middle of winter.

For more information visit http://www.skincancer.org/

 

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