Archive for Monday, March 16, 2009


If Tanning, tan smart

March 16, 2009


Dermatologists and tanning salon owners may never get along.

Most dermatologists would probably agree the risks of tanning outweigh any benefits. But regardless of what dermatologists say and despite all of the negativity that exists regarding tanning, people continue to do it.

Jannah Laing, owner of Ultimate Tan, 2449 Iowa St., says smart tanning is key to tanning as safely as possible.

Ultimate Tan has been helping residents of Lawrence achieve a golden glow since their doors opened 20 years ago. It is certified by the International Smart Tan network, an education institute that certifies tanning salons, helping them learn about the tanning process, how the skin tans and what is expected of tanning salons.

“Its just really, really important in taking care of your skin,” she says.

For Laing, customizing the tanning process for each patron is a must. In addition to learning about customers’ tanning history, she talks to them about everything from their skin type to medications they are taking. In some cases, she even discusses eating habits, as some foods cause skin to burn more easily.

“We try to cater to the individual,” Laing says.

The sun emits two kinds of UV radiation. UVB rays are what cause most sunburns to the upper layers of skin. Most tanning beds use UVA radiation to help tanners achieve their desired skin shade. It reaches the lower layers of the skin where it triggers melanocytes to produce melanin, the brown pigment that causes tanning.

Dermatologist Daniel Aires of the KU Medical Center explains the problems associated with tanning.

“It turns out skin cancers are caused both (types of radiation),” he says. “Melanoma is the scene of the crime and UVB is one of the criminals, but both UVA and UVB probably play a role.”

Aires says he understands high school and college are times when people experiment with the way they present themselves to the world, but he advocates diet and exercise are more productive ways to change appearance.

“It’s more important that you work on who you really are and not try to change it,” he says. “Barring unforeseen circumstances, they will eventually be in their 30s or 40s, and another problem that will come about that has nothing to do with cancer is wrinkles.”

While Aires highlights the problems caused by tanning and stresses the importance of accepting your skin tone the way it is, he recognizes that sunlight is important for the body’s production of vitamin D.

“Tanning and vitamin D are flip sides of a coin,” he says. “Vitamin D is incredibly important. It has to do with fighting cancer and preventing multiple sclerosis. It can also affect mood.”

Other ways to make sure the body produces vitamin D are to take vitamin supplements or drink milk fortified with vitamin D.

Aires acknowledges that going to a tanning salon once or twice probably will not cause irreparable damage for most people. However, there are certain people who should never take that risk.

“For people who are really prone to sunburn, they should really never go tanning,” Aires says. “They have a much higher risk of skin cancer.”

Laing says anyone who doesn’t tan in the sun won’t tan in a tanning booth either, one of the things she tries to educate her customers about.


Robert Rauktis 8 years, 10 months ago

A tan is a skin injury (period). A fast road to skin aging and wrinkles with recurrent cancer...the same thing as a "safe" cigarette.

viewfromahill 8 years, 10 months ago

What a shame humans are made to suffer the indignities of the natural environment.

Confrontation 8 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, because a tanning bed is really a "natural environment."

KansasPerson 8 years, 10 months ago

This is so wrong, I hardly know where to start.

Here are some FACTS to offset the BS being put out there by the tanning bed industry.

More than 1 million Americans were diagnosed with a skin cancer last year. That's more than 50% of all cancers in the U.S.

Some countries have it even worse. Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. Fair-skinned people of British ancestry in a very sunny environment -- what does this lead to? HALF of ALL Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer during their life. Skin cancer makes up 80% of their total cancers.

Most non-melanoma skin cancers have a high cure rate, but if they aren't caught early, they can destroy the skin and surrounding structures (bone).

And then there's melanoma. The most common type (cutaneous melanoma) accounts for only 4% of all skin cancers, but it accounts for 79% of all skin cancer deaths.

If your melanoma metastasizes, you then have a 5-year survival rate of less than 5%. Very difficult to cure at that point. Median survival of six to nine months.

UV light exposure is the single most important contributing factor to skin cancer.

Tanning booth owners still insist that they have "safe" tanning because of their bulbs only emitting UVA, not UVB, rays. (They are also still putting out the misinformation that tanning offers "protection.") But UVA is a significant carcinogen and can produce both melanomas and non-melanoma cancers.

Tanning booths/beds can cause irreversible damage to the skin AND EYES. Did you know that you can get melanoma in your eyes?

Yes, Vitamin D is very important. It is necessary to get adequate amounts for healthy bones. But you can get those levels by dietary means. Two 8-oz glasses of fortified milk or orange juice, or daily supplements (200 to 1,000 IU) of vitamin D, will do it. UV exposure is not required. But if you do insist upon it, studies show that 5 to 10 minutes, 2 to 3 times per week, on very limited areas (face, neck, hands), is sufficient to sustain your vitamin D levels. ===> Greater skin exposure does NOT add to stores of vitamin D -- it just ages your skin and increases your cancer risk.

I don't wish skin cancer on anyone, but if you know anyone who has it, it should be enough to convert you to sunscreen use. It can be an extremely disfiguring disease, and as I've said, a very dangerous one if not caught early enough.

I love the warm sun as much as the next Kansas-person, but I've learned to use sunscreen before I go out to enjoy those rays. And tanning booths? No way!

kmat 8 years, 10 months ago

Burning is what has caused most skin cancers. What protects your skin from burn? Pigment.

I tan. It does lift my mood and has been proven to lower blood pressure, which I have problems with.

There is a big difference between going a couple times a week to maintain some tone to your skin and baking yourself to a crispy brown. I know a few that have had skin cancer. They would all burn themselves. It's the burn!

Nature's way to prevent you from burning, which is what harms the skin, it to create melanin.

It kills me that they're warning about wrinkles. Oh my god, you could get a wrinkle. Guess what, we all get wrinkles. Part of what's wrong with our society is the fear of aging and everyone spending big bucks trying to make themselves look younger than they are instead of being happy with who they are.

If you like to have some color to your skin and like the benefitial part of tanning, then you do it safely. Because I keep some color year round, I don't burn. I put on sunscreen if I'll be in the sun for extended periods of time. Otherwise, let nature do what it's supposed to and darken the skin to protect it from over exposure.

KansasPerson 8 years, 10 months ago

kmat, your comments about society pushing a fear of aging (and wrinkles) on us is interesting, since it is also society that is telling you that a tan = good health.

You are partly correct. Melanin does have a protective benefit. But that only applies to people who have naturally darker skin -- not to the melanin that darkens the skin when you get a tan.

You are also partly correct about the dangers of sunburns. Sunburns definitely increase your chance of melanoma. (Even ONE bad sunburn in your life -- I'm talking about the blistering-bad kind -- can DOUBLE your chances of developing a melanoma someday.) But lifetime sun exposure (whether by burning OR tanning) increases your chance of non-melanoma skin cancers, like squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. LIfetime sun exposure -- or tanning bed exposure -- that's the kind you're doing, kmat. Bottom line: Both sunburns and tanning damage the DNA in your skin, and the enzymes in your skin are not always successful at repairing it, which can lead to mutations, which lead to cancer.

Lynn Wilson-Bruce 8 years, 10 months ago

I have been laying out in the sun since the 70's and I still soak my body with baby oil. I tan very easy, never burn and so in the winter time I do go to the tanning bed! I have very oily skin so if I need the sun to help dry up my oily skin! I just recently went to get a sun/skin cancer check and the dermatologist could not believe I had ever been in the sun! I just really think its all genetics. I am very blessed to have very little wrinkels but I think that comes mainly from my oily skin which I have tried to dry out since the 70's. Some people are more prone to get skin cancer and some are not! So please don't judge!

KansasPerson 8 years, 10 months ago

kmat, I forgot to mention that there was a study in 2007 on the endorphins released when you are exposed to UV light. You're not imagining things when you say that tanning lifts your mood. This "addictive" component might be another reason (besides societal pressure) why it's so difficult for people to give up tanning booths, even when they know the harm that can happen.

kmat 8 years, 10 months ago

Ksperson - I don't in the least bit tan because of societal pressure and never once said that a tan = good health. I personally don't give a rats *ss what others think. It's what I like. I have pasty skin (Irish), oily skin like girlygirl speaks of (sun exposure does help oily and acne prone skin - proven), love to be in the sun and at the pool and spend a lot of time in Cali and am in the sun a lot out there. I don't burn unless I spend obscene amounts of time in the sun or don't keep a light base tan. But, with my base tan, I don't burn. So, the increased melanin does offer my skin some protection from sunburn.

Nice job judging me and assuming that I am trying to keep up with the pressures of society. Got anything else you'd like to pull out of your ..... ?

And I agree also that it depends partly on genetics. My husband's family has problems with skin cancer and he has to get frequent check ups. I have never had a strange mole or any sign of sun damage. My parents, in their 70's, have had some small little precancerous spots removed. But they spent most of their lives in the sun with absolutely no protection at all and never had any problems until they were in their 70's!

You know, you may eat cheeseburgers and I know that's really bad for you. I don't eat them. We all chose our vices. So, mine may be the sun. I guarantee I take better care of myself than 90% of the people out there. Many will die from a heart attack from eating poorly and being lazy before I die of skin cancer.

Random56 8 years, 10 months ago

evolution at work! Go ahead and go to tanning beds or spend hours baking in the sun so you will be socially accepted and wanted.

mbarnes01 8 years, 10 months ago

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suntanedu 8 years, 10 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

kmat 8 years, 10 months ago

Random - can you understand that some of us don't tan because of what others think of us? Maybe you are so narrow minded and concerned about what others think of you. I do it for health reasons - proven to lower blood pressure, which it does for me - and it helps oily skin.

What you think of me means nothing.

Did you even bother to read the posts through before criticizing others?

Do you yourself eat junk food? Do you get good exercise every day? Do you regularly see the doctor? Do you drink?

See, you do lots of things that endanger your health. That's evolution at work also. Now, go kill yourself slowly with another big mac and beer while playing on the computer instead of getting exercise why don't ya?

Confrontation 8 years, 10 months ago

Isn't it funny that those people who use tanning beds always say that people can't tell that they use tanning beds? The whole leather-face look gives all of them away. I guess it's an addiction of society, just like skin bleaching. Always trying to fit in and be popular. Seriously, if you're ugly before tanning, then you'll still be ugly after tanning.

KansasPerson 8 years, 10 months ago

kmat, I didn't mean to sound like I was making a value judgment on you as a person or anything. It's no shame to admit that we all take society into account when we perform some action. The very fact that you see your natural color skin as "pasty" tells me that you are listening to societal norms, which in the 1920s began to tell us that tanning looked better. If you'd been alive 150 years ago (perhaps in your ancestral country of Ireland) your natural-color skin would probably have been regarded as the height of beauty.

I'm glad that tanning is working out well for you so far, and I agree that it can help dry up oily skin. As for what happens in the long run, you're right -- we all choose our own poison!

Again, I'm sorry you took my remarks as a personal attack. When I read a headline implying that there's a "smart" or "safe" way to tan (and knowing what I do about the non-regulation of the tanning bed industry), I get a little hot under the collar.

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