Tanning, Sunburn, and Your Health
Tanning can cause irreversible damage to the DNA in your skin cells. A tan is visible evidence of damaged DNA and, contrary to popular opinion, is not a sign of good health. The damage that takes place when you expose yourself to harmful UV can lead to premature signs of aging and skin cancer.
Tanning increases your overall risk of basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. The best thing that you can do for your skin and health is to avoid tanning entirely!
What causes tanning?
Tanning is caused by over-exposure to harmful ultraviolet, or UV, radiation from the sun or artificial sources. This exposure causes damage to the cells on your outermost layer of skin, the epidermis. The skin tries to prevent further injury by producing melanin (the pigment that gives our skin its color). This results in darkening of the skin.
Tanning damages skin of all types. Even if you have a darker complexion, tanning causes injury to DNA in skin cells that can lead to premature aging and skin cancer.
What is at stake when we tan?
Tanning Myth or Fact?
Indoor tanning is safer than tanning outdoors
Tanning beds are NOT safer than the sun. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, just one indoor tanning session can increase the risk of developing melanoma by 20%, squamous cell carcinoma by 67%, and basal cell carcinoma by 29%.
A base tan will prevent sunburn
The belief that a base tan will prevent sunburn is completely unfounded. If you have a base tan, you can still burn! Remember…every time you tan or burn, you are also damaging the DNA in your skin. The more damage to your DNA, the greater your risk of getting skin cancer.
I need to expose myself to UV to get my daily Vitamin D
You do not need a certain amount of sun exposure to get your daily recommended dose of Vitamin D. The majority of people can get their vitamin D from a healthy diet and supplements (if needed). There is absolutely no reason to expose yourself to harmful UV!
Tanning beds are a great source of Vitamin D
Unfortunately, there is no “up-side” to indoor tanning. The bulbs used in tanning beds emit mostly UVA light; however, your body needs UVB light to produce Vitamin D.
Tanning is addictive
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, growing evidence indicates that tanning can be addictive. 20% of young white women between the ages of 18 and 30-years-old that use indoor tanning show signs of addiction. They find it hard to stop tanning and when they don’t get a dose of UV, they feel restless or depressed.
The damage is already done. What's the point in protecting my skin now?
It is never too late to start protecting your skin from the sun and indoor tanning beds. As soon as you do, your body will thank you by repairing some of the damage caused by harmful UV.