say NO to tanning beds

By Shay Sweet

In today’s world, looking good consists of many things.  The right outfit, healthy hair and more recently, a perfect tan.  College students all over the country have been recently introduced into a culture where tanning is the “cool” thing to do with coupons/fliers being passed out throughout the campus as well as GTL (Gym, Tanning, Laundry) becoming a slogan of this generation, thank you Jersey Shore.  All you have to do is stop by your local tanning salon for a few minutes to get a vacation worthy glow. Harmless right?  Students today are not as educated as they should be on the long-term effects that these beds can have on their skin and their lives.  Individuals that use tanning beds before the age of 35 have a 75% increased risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form on skin cancer.

Tanning beds were created in the 1970’s by Friedrich Wolff, the Wolff System, with the first beds producing extreme levels of UVB rays.  UVB rays are responsible for causing most skin cancers because it affects the more superficial epidermal layers, which is what causes sunburns.  UVA beds were then introduced and everyone believed that tanning was once again safe.  This couldn’t be farther from the truth because these rays penetrate the skin more deeply, which can cause aging and wrinkling of the skin, as well as emit doses of UVA as much as 12 times that of the sun.

Each year more than 1 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer and over exposing yourself to any UV rays can result in severe skin damage, sunburn or skin cancer. I know sometimes this can be easier said than done, with most effects not showing up until you are older.  Many think that looking good today is worth the stress later. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified tanning beds as a Group 1 carcinogen, following the likes of asbestos, plutonium, and tobacco smoke on the list of the worlds most dangerous cancer causing agents.

Along with the major effects that these machines can have on your skin, your eyes are just as at risk.  Those who do not wear protective eye wear have the chance of getting Cataracts, a disease that clouds the eyes lense, photokeratitis or even blindness.

Being tan is not worth risking your own life and even when you are in the sun you need to take the proper precautions such as using a high level of SPF or wearing protective clothing. The more fair you are the higher risk you are taking and there is are many self-tanning products offered for those of you out there who would like to still have a glow without damaging your skin.


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