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08-06-14 | Posted by

Risk-of-SunburnYou would have to be living under a rock not to know by now that tanning is bad for you. So why are so many people still soaking up the sun? Researchers say it’s all about the endorphins.

Tanning makes you feel good, it can be a relaxing experience, and it improves your mood (like recreational drugs do) and therefore, you keep doing it. For some women, tanning also makes them look skinnier, which is an added incentive. High risk sun exposure is said to be more common in teens. Bad sunburns in your youth can greatly increase your chances of developing skin cancer as an adult.

Beverly Hills Dermatologist Zein Obagi explains some of the dangers, “Whether you get your tan at the beach, around a pool, at a tanning parlor, or through incidental sun exposure, a tan is a burn and is an indication of damage to the skin cells. Cumulative damage caused by UV exposure can lead to premature signs of skin aging, wrinkles, sagging, pigmentary disorders, as well as deadly skin cancer, including melanoma.

The Skin Cancer Foundation  states unequivocally that there is no such thing as a healthy tan. In fact, indoor ultraviolet (UV) tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors. Yet to date, only a handful of states have completely banned the use of indoor tanning beds for minors under 18, including California, Delaware, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Texas and Vermont. At least 41 states and Washington DC regulate the use of tanning facilities by minors, according to The National Conference of State Legislatures. What’s more, The American Academy of Dermatology Association, Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, Indoor Tanning Association, National Cancer Institute, and the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, have all come out against the use of tanning devices for minors.

The US Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Surgeon General and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recently issued a national call-to-action on skin cancer prevention. This comes on the heels of the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) final order calling for stricter regulations of indoor tanning devices and a strong recommendation against the use of tanning beds for anyone under 18.

Specifically, the newest call-to-action highlights the dangers of indoor tanning, and recommends:

  • Continued research on indoor tanning trends and behaviors;
  • More messaging alerting the public about the dangers associated with indoor tanning;
  • Increased enforcement of existing regulations on indoor tanning;
  • Improved warning labels on tanning devices;
  • Wearing protective gear (such as a hat, sunglasses, and other protective clothing) as a preventative measure;
  • Seeking shade and using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF15 or higher to protect exposed skin, especially during the middle of the day.

The FDA has definitely had an impact on how we buy and use sunscreen. There is now an abundance of products that tout “broad spectrum” (UVA/UVB protection) claims and water resistance claims (how long a sunscreen remains effective while swimming or sweating) to choose from in drugstores to department stores.


Remember to reaapply sunscreen every two hours, especially if you’re swimming or sweating or otherwise in direct sunlight.

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