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article imageIncrease Your Chances Of Deadly Melanoma By Visiting A Tanning Salon Near You

By Nikki Weingartner     Jul 21, 2008 in Health
Addictions like smoking and drinking are real. But tanning? You bet. The problem is that it is starting in young teens all for the purpose of looking good. However, the outcomes are quite different, with fatal cancers on the rise.
Sure, we all know someone who sports that golden skin that appears seemingly flawless. Bodybuilders recommend tanning to "mask" those bumps and flaws, accentuating the bumps. Women do it to look fantastic in that new white summer top. Even still, many people claim that they are simply building a base tan to protect their skin, an erroneous belief that can have devastating effects.
The bottom line is that we are addicted to tanning and the sad part is that it is starting at a young age.
Gone are the days of the foil tanning blanket and baby oil with iodine or those endless weekends spent basking under the hot sun. Now we have tanning beds that, in just 20 minutes or less a day, provide a golden tan saving consumers time and money. But does it save on health? Not according to physicians.
A news report today shared stories of how tanning salons had become addictions, with regular appointments that quickly led to the most deadly form of skin cancer, melanoma. One story talked about how in just three years a teen girl went from vibrant to battling the killer cancer. And for what? She wanted to look good in her dress.
According to the report, the Journal of Investigative Dermatology reported that
...the incidence of melanoma increased 50 percent in a representative population aged 15-39 between 1980 and 2004, from 9.4 to 14 cases per 100,000 women.
What does this mean? It means that younger women are seeking a tan unprotected at a higher rate than men and more now than before. Although speculative in nature, a higher rate of melanoma in women in a younger population and a higher number of tanning salons can only lend to a reasonable take on those numbers and that is convenience tans. The experts seem to agree.
Dr. Arthur Sober, Medical Director of Massachusetts's General Hospital's Dermatology department said in a statement about the recent trend:
"In the '90s we were making progress," Sober said. "Some people were taking that message to heart and are protecting themselves and their kids."
But, Sober recalled, as newer, tanner idols such as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera emerged in the early 2000s, the tanning trend began to reverse itself.
"All of a sudden, 15 years worth of work went 'whoof,'" Sober said.
Skin cancer is the leading type of cancer, with the most deadly type giving rise to over 45,000 new cases a year. With "1 in 80" already branded with the mark of melanoma, prevention is truly the pound of cure!
Aside from the fatal risk of repeated tanning, salon tanning can prove addicting as the news story reported. A 2006 study out of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center provided a small sample of how addictive it might be, showing tanning withdrawal symptoms to parallel those of alcohol addiction with jitters and nausea. The study was reported in the April, 2006 edition of Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
The addiction even has a name: Tanorexia. Tanners become addicted to the feel good release of endorphins they get following a session. Getting that quick fix at the local salon. They look to themselves a little tan, but to others, too dark. They feel better but have increased their risk greatly.
With tanning, the more an individual increases their exposure to carcinogenic UV rays, the greater their risk of damage to the skin and to cancer. Indoor tanning, in a few short minutes, concentrates those rays thereby increasing the actual amount of time they spend in the "sun". There are no peer reviewed medical studies claiming tanning salons lessen the likelihood of cancer.
In many countries and even long ago, the white skin was considered the skin of wealth and beauty while the tan skin was that of the poor worker who slaved in the sun. Even still, Europeans tan at a lesser rate than obsessed Americans. At what point did our wires get crossed? Somewhere along the lines of when the anorexic fashion model replaced the curved goddess'.
Actually, a French designer in the 1920's changed our pale beauty forever when she returned from a trip sporting a golden glow. It was the "new wealth" of fashion and has been the desired look for most ever since.
For those who aren't happy with the colour of the skin they were born with, there are tanning alternatives such as lotions with a trace of self-tanner, bronzers and even the spray-tans that are now used by celebrities and cheerleaders across the country. Long gone are the days of the old school orange QT, as most of the self-tanners provide a nice gradual glow. Some even add sunscreen to their product. Do the research prior to going gold so one gets the best product for their skin type and colour.
Even the spray tans have some odd effects, such as requiring continual moisturising.
If you are a parent who allows or even encourages your teens to visit the tanning salons, you may want to think hard prior to her next appointment. The addiction is obviously real and with role models, parents and industries promoting the golden look, it isn't a wonder that the younger women in their impressionable phase of development are so easily misled into the world of baked goods and this is one instance where golden brown doesn't mean better!
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