Tanning issue brings light to ultraviolet exposure



    The summer months have come and gone, but many students still want a deep, golden tan. The obvious solution is indoor tanning. But experts encourage people to refrain from all tanning.

    Dr. Brad Neiger, associate professor of health services, said that tanning in any form is unwise.

    “There is no such thing as a healthy tan,” Neiger said. “The Food and Drug Administration and the American Cancer Society both suggest that no one intentionally tan, in or outdoors.”

    Cathy Warner, owner of Club Tan tanning salon, said that tanning is actually good for you, as long as it is done in moderation.

    “The key to tanning is education and controlled exposure,” Warner said. “A sunburn is the result of overexposure. This is what is harmful to the skin, not the ultraviolet rays.”

    Information from the American Academy of Dermatology states that there are two types of radiation, ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). UVA has long been associated with sunburn while UVB has been recognized as a deep penetrating tan. The information says that scientists have suggested recently that there may be an association between UVA radiation and malignant melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer.

    “There is no difference between ultraviolet light,” Neiger said. “You are exposed to both UVA and UVB in a tanning bed, and outdoors.”

    Warner said the reason the FDA encourages people to avoid tanning beds has a lot to do with exposure.

    “So many tanning salons do it wrong,” she said. “If it is a professional salon, they will control the exposure.”

    Warner said she thinks tanning is good for the body.

    “Tanning benefits your whole body. There are many bodily functions enhanced by ultraviolet light because of vitamin D.”

    Neiger agreed that vitamin D is beneficial, but he said you get more than enough vitamin D from your diet to fulfill your requirements.

    Information from the AAD also states that many of the harmful effects of tanning do not show up for many years. Skin cancer is the most serious disease related to ultraviolet exposure.

    The American Medical Association and the AAD have suggested a list of steps to minimize the sun’s damage to skin and eyes:

    — Plan your outdoor activities to avoid the sun’s strongest rays. As a general rule, avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

    — Wear protective covering such as broad-brimmed hats, long pants and long sleeved shirts to reduce exposure.

    — Wear sunglasses that provide 100% UV ray protection.

    — Always wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 15 or more, which will block both UVA and UVB rays when outdoors and reapply it according to manufacturer’s directions.

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