Vintage photo of mother and daughter in sunglasses sunbathing on bench, sixties, Poland

Many of us grew up believing that a tan was the ultimate picture of health and vitality, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. Tanned skin actually signifies skin cells that have been damaged by UV radiation from the sun, and it’s this damage that can increase the incidence of skin cancers. Skin cancer from tanning can include basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and the most dangerous of all, melanoma. The more we tan and sunburn, the higher the risk will be. That’s why it’s so important that we all know and understand the risks of skin cancer from tanning from an early age.

 

So what effect does tanning have?

You don’t need to get sunburnt to be damaging your skin. As the sun’s UV radiation hits your skin, your body produces a pigment called melanin to try to protect itself. The problem is that this UV exposure – and associated cell damage – builds up over time and increases the risk of skin cancers developing. As well as the risk of skin cancer, this damage to your skin cells can also contribute to loss of elasticity, wrinkles, and skin discolouration – even more reason to cover up and remember to be sun smart!

 

What are the chances of skin cancer from tanning beds?

An artificial tanning machine can emit up to three times as much UV radiation as the midday summer sun, and tanning beds and skin cancer have been irrefutably linked. That means solariums – even in the past – are absolutely a no-go. WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer actually classifies tanning beds and lamps in the highest cancer risk category, along with materials such as plutonium. Little wonder that those who use a tanning bed before the age of 35 increase their risk of melanoma by 75%.

 

Are there any alternatives to tanning?

There are plenty of fake tan creams, sprays and lotions out there that can give you the glow you’re looking for without exposing yourself to harmful UV rays. However, it’s vital to remember that these products will not provide protection against UV radiation (or at the most, will only provide minimal protection) so you’ll still need to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide to protect yourself while out in the sun. The other alternative is to relax and forget about the tan altogether. Truth be told, we’re all for embracing your natural, healthy skin tone!

 

Remember that regular skin cancer checks should be part of everyone’s skincare routine in order to catch any potential problems. The skin check process is fast and simple, so free call The SunDoctors Skin Cancer Clinics on 13SKIN (13 75 46) to book a consultation in a location close to you.