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Tanning: The Darker Side
Public health professionals and dermatologists are worried about the risks associated with ultraviolet (UV) radiation from tanning beds, sun lamps, and the sun. There are two kinds of UV radiation Ultraviolet A (UVA) & Ultraviolet B (UVB). UVB have long been associated with sunburn while UVA rays penetrate deeper and cause more damage.
THE DANGERS OF TANNING
While skin cancer is associated with sunburn, even moderate tanning can produce the same effect. UV radiation from sun lamps, tanning beds, and the sun may cause skin cancer and can have a damaging effect on the immune system. It can also result in premature aging of the skin, giving it a leathery, wrinkled appearance.
THE SUN & YOUR HEALTH
People have associated a suntan with health and vitality. The truth is vitamin D is a necessary part of good health, but it only requires a small amount of sunlight (five to ten minutes) for the body to manufacture it. This does not involve a suntan!
IS SUNLIGHT HARMFUL?
Yes. The number of cases of skin cancers has been on the rise over the years because of increasing exposure to UV radiation from the sun lamps, tanning beds, and the sun.
CAN THE FORMS OF SKIN CANCER THAT ARE CAUSED BY TANNING BEDS, SUN LAMPS, AND THE SUN BE EASILY CURED?
NOT necessarily. For example Melanoma, has a suspected link to UVA exposure, and can be fatal if it is not treated early. In North America the number of cases of melanoma is rising.
DOES THE SKIN OF YOUNG PEOPLE SHOW THESE HARMFUL EFFECTS?
Skin aging and cancer are delayed effects that show up many years after the exposure. Unfortunately, since the damage is not immediately visible, young people are often unaware of the dangers of tanning. It is estimated that cases of skin cancer will continue to increase as people who are tanning in their teens and twenties reach middle age.
WHY CAN SOME PEOPLE TAN FOR MANY YEARS AND STILL NOT SHOW DAMAGE?
People who tan are greatly increasing their risk of developing skin cancer. This is particularly true when tanning taken place over a period of years this is because damage occurring to the skin accumulates. Everyone who has had repeated sun exposer over a long period of time will experience premature aging. Damage may be less apparent and take longer to show up in people with darker skin.
ARE TANNING BEDS AND SUN LAMPS SAFER THAN NATURAL SUNLIGHT?
No. Most tanning beds and sun lamps emit mostly UVA radiation; commonly called "tanning rays" because they are less likely to cause sunburn than the UVB radiation from natural sunlight. Contrary to claims made by some tanning parlors, this does not make them safer; in fact, these rays are responsible for deep skin damage. UVA rays may be linked to melanoma, as with UVB rays, UVA rays are also linked to premature skin aging and damage to the immune system.
We put academic qualifications, many years of combined experience, and training in a variety of special interest areas to work for your healthy, radiant skin. Our providers – Drs. Schachter, Hanna, Curtis, Abdulla, Pollack, and Taradash – welcome new patients for treatment at the Dermatology on Bloor practice on Park Road in Toronto. Our team is here to serve your needs