Any form of tanning can cause cancer

By Shannon King
March 14, 2002


With spring right around the corner and warmer weather in the past couple of weeks, many people around campus are hitting up the tanning salons. Before leaving for that exotic destination for spring break last week, the campus looked like people had already been on vacation. No one wants to hit the beach with white legs and ghostly arms, so a nice base tan was part of the necessary preparations for Cancun, Panama City, Jamaica or wherever else students may have been headed.

A nice tan may be nice, but what risks are being taken to get that sun-kissed look? The Food and Drug Administration says that some sunlight can be good for your health and vitality because it helps to produce vitamin D. However, in much less time than it takes to get a suntan, your body can make more vitamin D than it could ever use.

Tanning beds, sun lamps and ultraviolet radiation from the sun can cause skin cancer. Even if you do not get a sunburn, tanning over time can cause the same effect. The longer you are exposed to these harmful rays, the more susceptible you are to getting skin cancer. There are two types of UV radiation, ultraviolet A and B. UVA rays would be darker, deeper tans and UVB rays would be associated with sunburns and more frequent sun exposure.

Premature aging of the skin, wrinkles, damaging effects on the immune system and the possibility of malignant melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, are just some of the dangers of tanning and long exposure to the sun. According to the FDA, over the past year, there were 38,300 cases of melanoma with 7,300 fatalities.

Tanning greatly increases the risk of skin cancer and the risk is not lessened by small amounts of tanning over time. It actually makes the situation worse because damage to the skin accumulates over time. Wrinkles and premature aging of the skin, unlike skin cancer, will show up in every sun worshiper.

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Shannon King

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