Ah… the beauty of youthful, tanned skin. Many of us strive to achieve a summer glow year-round, even resorting to dangerous tanning beds to keep pigment from fading. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), tanned skin equals exposure to damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays. In fact, altering the skins pigment by laying out in the sun is a sign of skin damage in itself. In order to protect itself, the skin produces more melanin which darkens its colors. Regular damage of this kind results in premature signs of aging and more seriously, skin cancer.
Whether you’re lying on the beach in Miami – no matter the time of year – or laying in a tanning bed for 15-20 minutes, your skin is being harmed. Although skin cancer doesn’t form overnight, breaking these bad habits early on protects your future health and vitality long into the future.
UV Exposure and Cancer
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), exposure to UV radiation, whether artificial or natural, increases an individual’s risk for developing skin cancer. Melanoma, which is the most lethal form of skin cancer, is linked to severe sunburns at a young age. A study from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) from July 2009 found tanning devices that emit UV radiation, including sun lamps and beds, are considered a member of the highest cancer risk category. Tanning beds are now classified as carcinogenic to humans, a strong shift from prior years when they were considered likely carcinogenic.
The IARC says two types of skin cancer are linked to indoor tanning: squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. UV-emitting tanning devices are also associated with cancer of the eye, known as ocular melanoma. For individuals who use tanning beds before the age of 35, melanoma risk increases an astonishing 75 percent.
UV Exposure and Other Risks
Aside from being cancer-causing, high exposure to UV rays leads to premature aging. Over time, skin loses its elasticity and wrinkles, but high-risk sun or sunlamp exposure expedites this process. So much for achieving that youthful looking glow.
UV-B radiation is linked to immune suppression. This means that your body is unprotected from diseases, including skin cancer, after sun damage.
Aside from eye cancer, harsh rays from the sun or tanning beds can damage your eyes. You might think those little goggles prevent ocular damage, but they are not foolproof. Many high-risk tanners even skip the goggles to avoid tan lines, which is particularly dangerous. Plus, unhygienic salons that provide used goggles could leave you at risk for an eye or skin infection.
It’s time to take your skin’s health more seriously. The Skin Cancer Foundation states that each year in the U.S., over 5.4 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are treated in over 3.3 million people. There are more annual cases of skin cancer than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer combined. And, one person dies from melanoma every 52 minutes.
Dr. Mariano Busso, Miami’s premier aesthetic dermatologist, can help you detect early signs of melanoma and eradicate risk factors from your everyday life. To schedule a consultation, call 305-857-0144.