Teenage girls and young adult women, in America, are going to tanning salons more than ever before. There is high pressure from Hollywood and the fashion industry to maintain tan skin all year round. The popular mentality is that “tanner is better”. Women are succumbing to this mentality even if it requires them to spend hundreds of dollars buying tanning products, laying in tanning beds, or even getting spray on tans. Though people may think that tan skin does indeed look more appealing, the health effects that may appear later on in life are simply not worth the vanity from fake tanning. If one starts going fake tanning, she may become addicted and over tan, she increases her chances of getting melanoma, and may eventually get skin cancer.
A major problem associated with tanning beds, is the addictive factor that women may experience after using one. According to Dr. Mandeep Kaur, who wrote an article titled Tanning Beds; Small Study Points to Addictive Effects of Frequent Tanning, claims that there may be a little more to tanning than just achieving darker skin. Kaur found research of a small study from the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, which “…was designed to test the hypothesis that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light may produce endorphins, brain chemicals that are linked to pain relief and euphoric feelings, and could play a role in tanning behavior. UV light occurs naturally in sunlight and is responsible for the tanning and burning effects of the sun. Artificial UV light is used in tanning beds and sunlamps.”
According to the small study, they found that women actually felt better about themselves and more relaxed after going to a tanning salon. Kaur says, “New evidence suggests that ultraviolet light has feel-good effects that may be similar to those of some addictive drugs” (1673). Because of these “feel-good” endorphins produced in the body, some women may end up over tanning. According to the article, there are “frequent tanners” who over tan to an unnecessary point; they generally go tanning anywhere between eight to fifteen different times in a single month (Kaun 1673). The majority of the time what happens when women over tan, is that they appear to have an “orange” looking skin tone. People most commonly find this “orange” look to be highly unattractive. However, the woman is too addicted to the soothing feeling that tanning gives her, so she is unwilling to stop and would rather continue looking orange.
Generally, people know that skin cancer is caused by improper use of sunblock while being exposed under the sun and by going to the tanning bed. However, young women are still spending their money at tanning salons and encouraging their peers to join them. According to the article “Tanning and Skin Cancer” written by Jacqueline M. Junkins-Hopkins MD, she found research that said that in “…more than 7000 cases, it was found that having ever used a tanning bed was associated with an increased risk of melanoma. These authors also reported that the first exposure to sunbeds before 35 years of age was associated with a significantly increased risk of melanoma, and that there was an increased relative risk for squamous cell carcinoma.
This is a concern, because in the United States, nearly 30 million people tan indoors yearly, including 2.3 million adolescents. The indoor tanning industry is a multibillion dollar enterprise, despite the fact that many frequent tanners are aware of this malignancy risk” (854). These statistics have been constantly increasing over the past years. Women are willing to risk health concerns later in their life for a temporary tan. According to Junkins-Hopkins research, “Misperceptions about tanning also contribute to an increase in indoor tanning. Some feel that tanning offers protection against damaging UV rays. There is no such thing as a safe tan, and the sun protection factor (SPF) offered by an acute tan is approximately 2 to 3. In fact, tanning occurs as a response to UV damage to DNA.
Artificial UV light sources that are used in tanning salons have predominantly ultraviolet A light (UVA) bulbs, but the proportion of ultraviolet B light (UVB) from artificial light ranges from 0.1% to 5%. Both spectrums have carcinogenic potential, and the amount of UV radiation exposure may be concentrated to up to five times that of natural sunlight. UVB causes characteristic mutations in DNA that disrupt the replication and transcription of DNA” (855). Though the general public is not fully informed of the damages UV light can be to their skin, people are aware that it should concern them. UV radiation is a serious concern that everyone should worry about more than the mere fact of maintaining a fake tan so they appear “more attractive”.
Kaur, Mandeep. “Tanning Beds; Small study points to addictive effects of frequent tanning.” Science Letter. Apr. 2006: ProQuest Health and Medical Complete, ProQuest. Web. 10 Nov. 2011. Junkins-Hopkins, Jacqueline. “Tanning and Skin Cancer.” Journal of the America Academy of Dermatology. 62.5 (2010): 854-856. Web. 10 Nov. 2011.
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