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Artifical tanning popular despite risks

With the days gradually getting colder and the sun hiding more and more behind sheets of gray clouds, some students turn to indoor tanning methods for a “”bronzed look.””

Over the last few years tanning gels, sprays, lotions and beds have increased in popularity but recently the American Cancer Society [ACS] have brought to attention the harmful effects that are existent in these tanning alternatives.

In an ACS online pamphlet entitled, Sunlight and Ultraviolet Exposure, “”Artificial sources of UV light, such as sunlamps and tanning booths, may increase risk of developing skin cancer.””

However, despite risks, some students continue to spend time in the sun or tan indoors.

“I’ve naturally tanned all my life but I have considered using artificial tanning,” Ronald Blalack, ’06, said. “There’s a tanning bed in the gym in my apartment building but I haven’t had time to use it.”

According to the American Academy of Dermatology [AAD], tanning lotions may be an option to darken light skin. They cause no harm to the skin unlike tanning beds. However, lotions provide ineffective or no protection from the sun.

The site also lists the dangers of tanning, citing UV rays from tanning booths as a possible cause of premature aging of the skin and may damage the immune system. For more information, visit the [AAD] web site at www.aad.org/.

Currently some students are using tanning beds in preparation for the winter formal, Night of the Stars on March 6.

“I go to a place called Sunstar Tanning in Fresno Monday through Friday after school, “Joelle Grimes, ’06, said. “I went for Christmas and I’m going again for Night of the Stars. I know it’s bad for me, but I’m really white.”

Hannah Wilhelm, ’07, took up using tanning lotion last summer.

“I burn instead of tan in the summer since my skin is so light, so I like to use the lotion for a bronze look.”

Yet according to the ACS, tanning beds give off a dangerous level of UV rays, which increases the chances of skin cancer. Those with fair skin and light-colored eyes are the most at risk to developing skin cancer.

While cancer may not appear during adolescence, the ASC encourages the use sunscreens with a SPF 15 or higher for skin protection even if the day is overcast; UV rays can travel through the clouds.

Some students are against any form of tanning, artificial or not.

“Penetrating your skin cells with radioactive heat doesn’t appeal to me personally,” Elise Aydelotte, ’05, said. “I love the white sickly look and try to avoid the sun.”

According to the National Cancer Institute, skin cancers usually appear after the age of 50, but avoiding UV rays at an early age greatly decreases the risk.

For more information on skin cancer risks or prevention visit the National Cancer Institute at www.cancer.gov/cancerinfo/wyntk/skin or go to the American Cancer Society at www.cancer.org/docroot/PED/ped_0.asp.

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