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We all want beautiful and healthy skin, but some of us tend to equate beautiful, vibrant skin with tanned skin. Tanning is actually your body’s reaction to skin damage from ultraviolet rays.
Both the sun and the tanning equipment release two types of ultraviolet rays. UVB rays reach the top of the skin and are the likely cause of many types of sunburn. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin. When your body is unprotected against UVA rays, it releases melanin, a pigment that darkens the skin.
Many people have the misconception that indoor tanning equipment is safer than sunbathing, but tanning beds use mainly UVA rays at a higher concentration than sunlight, so they can cause just as much, if not more, damage to your skin. In addition, indoor tanning facilities are open most days of the year, making them more accessible than sunlight.
Indoor tanning equipment has been linked to two types of skin cancers: melanoma, the deadliest form, and squamous cell carcinoma, as well as eye cancer. A 2009 study conducted by the international Agency for Research on Cancer, found people’s risk of developing melanoma increases by 75% if they begin visiting tanning beds before the age of 35. The American Cancer Society reported that melanoma is one of the most common types of cancers in those younger than 30 years old, especially women.
Exposure to UV rays from sunlight and tanning equipment also can cause premature aging, immune system suppression, eye damage, and allergic reaction.
The center for Disease Control and Prevention lists the following tips to help you protect yourself from UV exposure:
• Wear sunscreen with a sun protective factor (SPF) of at least 15 and UVA and UVB protection.
• Stay in the shade, especially during the middle of the day.
• Cover as much skin as possible with clothing.
• Wear a hat with a wide brim to protect your face, eyes, ears, neck, and head.
• Wear sunglasses with as close to 100% protection from UVA and UVB rays as possible.
• Avoid indoor tanning.
For more information on protecting yourself from UV damage, contact the Owen County Cooperative Extension Service.
Source: Nicole Peritore, UK Physical Activity Coordinator U.S. Food and Drug Administration Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.