Tanning beds and cancer risk

Spring break is right around the corner.

Spring break is right around the corner. And for many that means packing up and heading someplace sunny and warm — but before they go some will hit the tanning bed, thinking that’s their ticket to a burn-free vacation.

In reality, it’s their ticket to getting skin cancer. Well, sort of. There is no way to prove that tanning beds are the solitary cause of skin cancer. But the World Health Organization’s cancer division has listed tanning beds as definitive cancer-causers, right alongside tobacco.

For a good while the ultraviolet (UV) radiation emitted by tanning beds was considered a “probable” carcinogen, but numerous studies have concluded that the risk of melanoma — the most dangerous type of skin cancer — jumps by 75 percent in people who used tanning beds in their teens and 20s.

Seventy-five percent? That’s a whole lot. And it’s not just melanoma — tanning beds can also cause basal and squamous cell carcinomas (non-melanoma skin cancer) and ocular melanoma, a cancer that develops in the eyes.

Fair-skinned people are at the highest risk, but that doesn’t mean people who “tan well” are out of the woods.

A “good tan,” either from outside or from indoor tanning devices, provides the equivalent of just an SPF-4 sunscreen. And even those who tan well can get melanoma. So, don’t think you can use the debate over tanning bed use as an excuse to roast in the sun instead!

No one wants you to become a home-dwelling hermit who never sees the light of day, but know the risks associated with both indoor and outdoor tanning and take the appropriate precautions to protect your skin.

For more information on skin cancer prevention, call (502) 629-1234 or visit NortonHealthcare.com/SkinCancerPrevention.


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