In preparation for summer, it may be tempting to visit a tanning booth or bed. These were once thought of as a “safe alternative” to natural sunlight, but in reality, tanning beds are just as dangerous for your skin as the sun. Tanning beds give off high levels of ultraviolet, or UV, radiation, which damages the skin. Although you may not see the effects immediately, it can increase your chances of developing skin cancer in the future. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, just one indoor tanning session can increase the likelihood of melanoma by 75%. Indoor tanning can also cause immune system suppression and complication with vision and eye health, including cataract development and eye cancer.
One in five Americans are estimated to be diagnosed with skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. Although preventable, thousands of people die from skin cancer each year. There are two forms of skin cancer. Nonmelanoma skin cancers are those that are localized to one area of the body and do not spread to other systems or organs in the body. They are usually found on areas of the skin that are most exposed to UV radiation, such as the face, hands, and neck. Melanoma skin cancer is more dangerous, and results from repeated overexposure to UV rays. Melanoma can spread to other parts of the body, making it more dangerous and deadly if left untreated.
Both forms of cancer are highly treatable when detected in their early stages, so take time to talk to your doctor about a skin cancer screening. However, avoiding indoor tanning beds all together is the safest and easiest way to avoid skin cancer. Remember to wear sunblock of at least SPF 30 if you are going out in the sun and reapply every two hours. For more information on the dangers of indoor tanning, please contact the Livingston County Department of Health at (585) 243-7299.
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