Young sunbed users

By on September 19, 2002

Young adults sacrifice important priorities to spend 15 minutes under a tanning lamp to hopefully gain a beautiful bronze tan only to increase the risk of skin cancer overtime.
According to Margaret R. Karagas, PhD., of Dartmouth Medical School (DMS) and researchers, the use of artificial tanning devices may contribute to the incidence of melanoma, a critical form of skin cancer, and there is also an association between tanning devices of two common types of skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
Tanning devices have gained a wide spread popularity in the United States according to Karagas and researchers, who published findings in the Feb. 6 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. They found that the majority of users are adolescence or young adult women.
“In our culture, tanned skin is viewed by many as giving one a healthy, youthful and more attractive appearance,” said Thomas Brady, director of Clinical Laboratory Science. “Younger people are more interested in looking good and making themselves more noticeable and attractive compared to older age groups.”
Researchers found that young women aged 18 to 30 who went to the tanning salon 10 times or more a year, had seven times the incidence of melanoma than women who did not go to tanning salons.
According to Brady, it is known that ultraviolet radiation (UVR) comes primarily from the sun, but individuals who go to tanning salons are exposed to additional UV radiation from the fluorescent lights. This UV radiation produces skin cells called melanin (the skins pigment), which causes tanning. It may produce DNA damage which, if unrepaired, will accumulate over time.
“The more UV light an individual is exposed to over his or her lifetime, the more DNA damage the skin cells incur, and the more likely it is that they will develop skin cancer,” said Brady.
According to Dr. Michael J. Franzblau, a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco, tanning salon sun beds deliver 99 percent ultraviolet light A (UVA). This is the sunlight that tans people, which provides an intense dose of radiation to the skin and can cause dangerous risks to users.
Brady feels the public should be educated about tanning devices.
“People, in particular young people, should be educated about the risks of excessive UV radiation at home and in school in a health class setting,” he said.
There have been suggestions made from the public health and medical community of Dartmouth, New Hampshire, which included restricting tanning device use among minors and requiring written informed consent from adults.
Brady explained the consequences in using tanning devices at a young age.
“Skin damage may tend to make the skin leathery and somewhat unattractive in appearance,” said Brady. “In an effort to look good when your relatively young, you may sacrifice looking youthful during middle-aged.”
Brady points out, “Young people may not care about this when they’re 20 years old, but they certainly will later.”


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