HEALTH ORGANIZATIONS ARE calling for greater restrictions on tanning beds—and for good reason. The American Cancer Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Dermatology all agree that tanning beds should be restricted or banned.
“We already know that ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, tanning beds, and sun lamps is dangerous,” says Katrina Lynch, MPAS, PA-C, dermatology physician assistant at Summit Healthcare Regional Medical Center. “In fact, this radiation is proven to cause cancer.”
EXPOSED TO RISK
An estimated 7.8 million adult women and 1.9 million adult men in the United States still tan indoors, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Indoors or outside, tanning has been shown to increase a person’s risk of developing melanoma.
“Tanned skin is damaged skin, regardless of how you tan it,” says Katrina. “That’s why we see melanoma cases growing rapidly among women between the ages of 15 to 29. This is the demographic that’s far more likely to visit tanning salons.”
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, with one in five Americans being diagnosed. The American Cancer Society estimates melanoma will claim the lives of around 9,700 people in 2017.
NO SUCH THING AS ‘SAFE’ INDOOR TANNING
In 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released new regulations for indoor tanning devices. Tanning beds and sunlamps were reclassified from “low risk” medical devices to “moderate to high risk.”
Tanning device manufacturers are now required to label all sun-tanning equipment with warnings of potential skin cancer and warnings that they should not be used by anyone under the age of 18. In addition, tanning devices may not have any marketing or labels that use the word “safe.”
STAYING SUN SAFE
Even if you steer clear of indoor tanning, it’s virtually impossible to avoid the sun completely, so Katrina offers the following tips to protect your skin outdoors:
Reapply sunscreen. Sunscreen should be applied every 80 minutes. This should be sooner if the person is sweating heavily or gets wet.
Go shopping. Most clothes allow UV rays to get through. Buying clothes and hats with a built-in sun protection factor (SPF) can give you better protection.
Avoid the noonday sun. The hours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. are typically when the sun’s rays are the most harmful. Plan accordingly.
Try spray tans. Organic spray tans and sunless tanning lotions can be safe ways to get a tanned look without exposing yourself to harmful UV rays.
Have a suspicious spot on your skin? Skin cancer screening appointments at Summit Healthcare are available between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday. To schedule an appointment, call 928.537.2094.