Bronzed bodies, kissed by the sun, have long symbolized good health. But truth be told, there’s no safe way to get a tan. Browned skin is damaged skin, and perhaps a dark harbinger of cancer to come. So protect yourself with adequate sun protection and these 19 things to know.
- There are two types of common ultraviolet radiation: UVA and UVB. UVA rays from the sun penetrate the top layers of skin and are mainly responsible for sunburns. UVB rays penetrate deeper and are associated with allergic reactions, such as a rash. Both damage the skin and both can lead to cancer.
- There’s also UVC, a short-wavelength radiation that’s largely filtered out by the atmosphere. Ozone depletion is causing some concern. UVC can cause redness and skin irritation, but it’s not known if it can cause skin cancer.
- Skin cancer is the world’s most common cancer. One in five Americans will develop the disease in their lifetime.
- There are three basic types of skin cancer. From worse to worst, basal cell carcinoma is the most common, followed by squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.
- Melanomas do not have to be brown. They can be pink, purple, red, skin-colored, brown, flat, raised, smooth, rough, smaller than a pencil eraser or larger. All suspect moles or body markings should be checked immediately.
- The number of skin cancer cases due to tanning is higher than the number of lung cancer cases due to smoking.
- Each hour, one person dies from skin cancer. That translates to 2,800 from non-melanoma skin cancers and 8,000 from melanoma.
- A base tan does not provide protection from skin damage. In fact, people who base tan are more likely to report getting sunburned.
- Sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 100 does not block out 100 percent of cancer-causing rays. Applied correctly, it provides 98 percent protection. A broad spectrum SPF 30 provides 95 percent.
A Yale study found that sun damage to cells and DNA can continue up to three hours after exposure.
- In the United States, facial skin cancers and wrinkling occur more often on the left-side because of the position we drive in. UV light penetrates windows, even on cloudy days.
A 2012 study suggests that increased caffeine intake is associated with reduced risk of basal cell carcinoma of the skin.
- More than 30 million Americans use indoor tanning salons each year. There are more tanning salons in major American cities than McDonald’s or Starbucks franchises.
- Indoor tanners are primarily girls and women, ages 16 to 29. It’s illegal in California for anyone under the age of 18 to use an indoor tanning bed.
- Indoor tanning is not safer than tanning in the sun. Tanning beds emit four times the UVA radiation and two times the UVB radiation of the midday summer sun. High-speed sunlamps boost a UVA dose six times and high-pressure sunlamps are 12 times more radiant than the sun.
- Radiation from just 10 indoor tanning sessions over two weeks can suppress a person’s cancer-fighting immune system. More than 419,000 diagnosed cases of skin cancer each year can be attributed to indoor tanning.
- There are more than 3,000 hospital emergency room cases each year involving persons seriously burned in tanning beds or from sunlamp exposure.
- Indoor tanning does not relieve Seasonal Affective Disorder. Light therapy for SAD acts through the eyes and requires visible light, not UV.
- Sunless tanning pills contain the color additive canthaxanthin, which in large amounts can turn a person’s skin orange, cause hives, liver damage and impaired vision.