Tanning is totally out
The truth is tanning isn’t good for you. And whatever colour your skin is, you need to protect it from the sun. Melanoma skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer for people aged 15-29 and it’s mostly preventable.
According to the World Health Organization,
- ultraviolet radiation (UV), from the sun and tanning devices, is a known carcinogen. In other words, indoor tanning can cause cancer.
- People who first started using indoor tanning equipment before the age of 35 have a 59% increased risk of melanoma.
Common Myths about Tanning
Myth: Having a tan is healthy.
- No, it's not. When your skin changes color, it's damaged and that can lead to premature aging and skin cancer.
Myth: Getting a ‘base tan’ helps prevent a sunburn and skin cancer.
- Think again! A tan (indoor or outdoor) offers almost no protection from sunlight or burning. Some tanning beds can expose you to 5 times more radiation than the sun. Use sunscreen to protect yourself instead.
Myth: Tanning salons are a healthy way to get your vitamin D.
- It’s true that vitamin D is needed for healthy bones and muscles, and may reduce the risks of some types of cancer, but tanning beds are not a safe way to get your vitamin D. It is safer to get it from the sun, supplements and your diet. With just a few minutes of unprotected sun exposure a day, it is possible to get enough vitamin D. Find out more on getting the right amount.
Myth: Sun damage is only temporary. If you rest your skin between sun exposures, the sun damage is erased.
- Sun damage adds up over time. The skin can repair superficial damage like the redness and soreness of sunburn, but the underlying damage remains. It may take 10 to 30 years for cancer to develop from repeated exposure.
Myth: A high spf sunscreen is all you need to protect yourself from the sun.
- Sunscreen on its own doesn’t offer complete protection from sun damage. Just because you have generously applied a 15 or higher SPF sunscreen, does not mean that you are protected for longer exposure in the sun. Sunscreen is not as effective at reducing your exposure to the sun’s rays as seeking shade or wearing protective clothing.
Myth: People with dark skin can’t get too much sun
- While people with light coloured skin are at a greater risk for developing melanoma, people with dark skin also increase their cancer risk by being exposed to the sun and indoor tanning beds. People with dark skin should practice the same sun sense behaviours at all times.
Preventing Skin Cancer
No one wants to stay inside when the sun is shining. Just be smart about your sun exposure. You need to protect yourself from UV radiation outside too. Check out how you can be sun safe.
- REDUCE sun exposure between 11am and 4 pm and when the UV index is above 3
- COVER up with loose fitting clothes & seek shade
- WEAR a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses
- USE SPF 15 or higher sunscreen and reapply according to the instructions
- AVOID indoor tanning. Some tanning beds can expose you to 5 times as much UV radiation as the sun.
Be Aware - Know Your Skin
Check your skin regularly. Most skin cancers are curable if you catch them early enough. Get someone else to check the hard-to-see places like your back.
- birthmarks or moles that change shape, color, size or surface
- new growths on your skin like pale, pearly nodules that grow larger and crust, or red, scaly, sharply defined patches
- a sore that doesn't heal
- any patch of skin that bleeds, oozes, swells, itches
Alternatives and Sunless Tanning
Not everyone can rock their natural skin tone like Lady Gaga and Anne Hathaway. While fewer people like bronze skin, some people find it hard to kick the habit. In a pinch, bronzer and tanning cream will do the trick. And they’re safe alternatives to tanning. More information on sunless tanning products.