People are increasingly using artificial tanning devices,
such as tanning beds and sunlamps, simply to look better.
Many people may feel that a tan enhances one's attractiveness.
But appearances can be deceptive: Tanning devices emit ultraviolet
(UV) radiation, which browns the skin, but may also lead to
skin cancer. Researchers recently sought information on the
link between tanning devices and two forms of skin cancer
- basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
New Hampshire residents were interviewed about factors related
to sun exposure, including sun sensitivity; sunbathing; tanning-device
use; and time spent outdoors. Participants were divided into
three groups based on presence of skin cancer. Roughly 600
basal cell carcinoma patients, 300 squamous cell carcinoma
patients, and 550 healthy individuals were involved in the
study, which appeared in the Journal of the National Cancer
of any tanning device was linked to an increased risk for
squamous cell carcinoma of two-and-a-half times; tanning-device
use was associated with an increased risk for basal cell carcinoma
of one-and-a-half times. The odds for skin cancer increased
steadily for each decade younger that a person first used
a tanning device.
Some sunlight is beneficial for good health, as it increases
vitamin D production in the body. Only 15 minutes of sunlight
per day on the face and arms is usually enough. But tanning
on a bed, in front of a lamp, or under the sun for extended
periods just to enhance your appearance simply isn't worth
Karagas MR, Stannard VA, Mott LA, et al. Use of tanning devices
and risk of basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers.
Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2002:94(3), pp.
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