For people living in cold climates, a tan is a desirable thing to have. A golden tan is a sought-after beauty aid by men and women alike. While a few can afford to holiday in the tropics and gain a natural tan, most people have to resort to the cheaper alternative that of tanning under a sun lamp.
Melanin content in the skin decides the natural skin complexion. People living in areas with sunshine through the year have browner skin as the skin produces more melanin as protection against the harmful effects of the sun’s Ultraviolet rays. Caucasians as a race have lower melanin content in their skin mainly because they live in places with less exposure to UV rays and thus have paler skin.
Tanning beds work in a pure UV environment and tanning lotions are applied to give the effect of tanned skin in a short period of time. With increasing awareness of the harmful effects of UV rays and their role in causing skin cancer, there is a worldwide debate on the safety of tanning beds.
Tanning beds have been deemed undesirable due to the following reasons:
- Tanning beds expose the user to large amounts of UV radiation in a short period of time. Medical research proves that there is a higher risk of skin cancer with exposure to UV radiation.
- Exposure to UV radiation suppresses the body’s immune system. This lowers the body’s resistance to fight infections.
- Prolonged exposure to UV rays cause premature aging of the skin. The moisture content in the skin is responsible for maintaining the skin’s elasticity and firmness. Exposure to tanning beds deprives the skin of essential moisture and leads to leathery skin after a period of time.
- There is a psychological aspect to the use of tanning beds. The user often is dissatisfied with the natural complexion and resorts to a tan to cover up perceived flaws. This leads to increasing dependence on a fake tan to the extent that the person feels inadequate without a tan. This is especially so among young women who crave the high from a tan.
- The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified the use of tanning beds as “carcinogenic to humans”. There has been widespread media coverage to educate people about the symptoms of skin cancer and its effects.
Despite increasing levels of awareness, it is a difficult task to stop the usage of tanning beds as it is 2 billion dollar industry in the US. Recently, a new bill called the Tanning Bed Cancer Control Act was introduced to limit the time one can spend using a tanning bed device.
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A more effective way to enforce limited usage is only through awareness of the harmful effects of tanning beds. The teens should become aware of spending the money on healthier pursuits.