Beach season is fast approaching the corner and the great summertime tanning debate is on its way to heating up once more. Is tanning really that bad for you? Really, what’s so wrong about wanting to get a little bit more of that lovely bronze color? And if you’re too busy to actually get a tan outdoors, what harm can a few sessions at a tanning salon do to you?

Recently, there’s been a new wrinkle in that so-called tanning debate. The Indoor Tanning Association has already launched a major ad campaign in leading newspapers in the US. And amongst other claims, their campaign wishes to contend the link establish
ed between melanoma and tanning. Melanoma is a major form of skin cancer and in response to the adcampaign; two of the biggest melanoma research organizations have issued some strong warnings to the public regarding the harmful effects of tanning.

Because of this scenario, the consumers are the ones being left confused. So what’s true and what’s not when it comes to tanning? Read on and find out.

1.True or False: Indoor tanning will not cause the development of melanoma.

FALSE. However, the indoor tanning industry begs to differ, saying in their ads that the link discovered between melanoma and tanning is just a product of “hype” and has not yet been proven.

John Overstreet, the Executive Director of the Indoor Tanning Association located in Washington, DC has claimed that there are a lot of studies regarding melanoma and certain conflicting evidences have arisen about what’s really causing it. He said that even heredity can be a factor in developing melanoma skin cancer, further claiming that a lot of people do get an indoor tan and don’t acquire skin cancer after.

Researchers though have stood their ground saying that the link between UV exposure from the sun or tanning beds and melanoma is hard to dispute. According to David E Fisher, MD, PhD, Chairman of Dermatology as well as Director of melanoma studies/program at the Massachusetts General Hospital at
Harvard School of Medicine in Boston, MA, there is no question that UV exposure increases someone’s risk of developing melanoma. Their group is one of the bigwigs that issued a strong statement against tanning.

2.True or False: Outdoor tanning causes skin cancer.

TRUE. A lot of studies have established a relationship between ultraviolet exposure and an increased risk of developing melanoma skin cancer, and this was according to a report published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology for their May 2008 issue.

3. True or False: You need a lot of sunshine to get your daily dose of Vitamin D

FALSE. No one is really contending the fact that sunlight
helps produce Vitamin D or the “sunshine vitamin”, or that this particular vitamin is unimportant for body functions. In fact, a lot of recent studies have established that enough levels of vitamin D can lead to the improvement of one’s heart health and even protects against the occurrence of breast cancer, and that’s among its other long-known benefits such as helping with bone health.

Though limited exposure to the sun (roughly 2-10 minutes per day) is enough to produce an ample amount of vitamin D, it is still not being recommended by Fisher. There is really not a need to get your vitamin D from exposing yourself to the sun because
you can get that from fortified foods such as milk
and other supplements.

4. True or False: Tanning causes premature skin aging

TRUE. Whether it’s indoors or outdoors, UV exposure over time can cause “photo aging” otherwise known as wrinkles and that leathery skin look.

In order to prevent the development of skin cancer, experts recommend the following:

a. Wear sunscreen at all times with protection level of at least SPF 15.

b. Skip sun exposure between 10am and 3pm.

c.When out in the sun, make it s a habit to wear protective clothing or gears like a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves and shades.

d. Apply your sunscreen 30 minutes prior to exposure and re-apply every two hours after.

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