The Dangers of Teen Tanning

With summer approaching, young people across the country will begin preparing for fun in the sun. While some focus on obtaining a “beach ready” body, many young men and women desire to have a sun-kissed complexion. Going to tanning salons for a quick UV fix is not uncommon, but holds serious health risks that most young people brush off.

Surveys have concluded that while young people are aware of the risks of tanning, the desire to have a tan outweighs the known dangers. In a study done by the American Academy of Dermatology, 92 percent of those surveyed said they knew how dangerous tanning was, but 65 percent admitted they still feel better when they have a tan. With skin cancer being the most prevalent form of cancer among Americans, the risks are not a joke and many states are passing tanning related legislation to force teen skin safety.

Common myths about indoor tanning may contribute to the high number of teens who still use tanning beds. While the tanning industry argues that indoor tanning may help to reduce outdoor sunburn, the truth is; there is absolutely no safe amount of UV exposure. In fact, indoor tanning rays can be up to 15 times stronger than UV rays emitted by the sun. Teen tanning is especially dangerous, as UV exposure is more deadly to young people under the age of 20. High UV exposure for people under 35 increases the chance of skin cancer by 75 percent.

The only way to reduce your skin cancer risks is to avoid indoor tanning, and always wear sunscreen outdoors. Wearing sunscreen, at least 30 spf, will protect skin from burning rays and prevent sun related wrinkles, sagging skin, leathery skin, cataracts, and more. The damage teens are doing right now may not been seen until later, but it’s definitely happening.

Thankfully, for those who are not willing to wear their natural skin color, there are options for a tan without the cancer causing rays. Drugstore body lotions now contain self tanners for a natural looking glow. Most indoor tanning salons now offer spray tanning; a method providing the body with an even layer of self tanner. Increasing fear about the realities of tanning have encouraged tanning companies to improve the UV-free spray tanning methods. Using these products is not known to cause damaging effects.

The numbers don’t lie. Tanning, whether indoors or outdoors, causes skin cancer and numerous other skin related problems; especially for teens. The only way to protect your skin, and your health, is to always avoid UV exposure. While having a bronzed complexion may seem compelling now, the future damage to skin should outweigh the immediate gratification of having a tan.

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