As more people begin to head outside to enjoy the weather, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is joining the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to promote the Burning Truth campaign urging residents to protect themselves from the dangers of tanning and exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Science has shown that no matter the source, sunlight or tanning bed, exposure to UV rays can cause skin cancer.
“There is a misconception that indoor tanning is somehow safe or safer than exposure to sunlight, but the truth is that tanning bed related injuries send thousands of people to the hospital each year,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, Chief Medical Executive with the MDCH. “Tanning beds pose immediate risk and have long-term effects on your skin and overall health.”
People who tan indoor damage their skin, which can lead to wrinkles, warts, rashes, and dark spots. The most serious concern is the risk of causing the deadliest skin cancer, melanoma. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and rates are climbing. Teen girls and young women need to be especially careful, as it is the second most common cancer in women between 20 and 29 years of age.
Further, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently came out with new requirements for sunlamp products that reinforce the risk, especially to minors. These requirements include reclassifying sunlamp products and UV lamps as moderate-risk, up from low-risk, and additional warning and safety labeling regarding minors under the age of 18 and skin cancer screenings.
The CDC’s Burning Truth initiative encourages residents to keep their skin healthy by protecting themselves from UV rays from the sun and tanning beds and learning about the myths associated with tanning of any kind, including:
• A base tan is not a safe tan. There is a common misconception that a tan acts as the body’s natural protection against sunburn. The truth is that a tan is the body’s response to injury from UV rays, showing that damage has been done. A “base tan” only provides a sun protection factor (SPF) of about 3 or less, which does little to protect your skin.
• Tanned skin is not healthy skin. Some people believe the tanning bed gives them a “healthy glow.” The truth is that whether tanning or burning, you are exposing yourself to harmful UV rays that damage your skin, and every time you tan, you increase your risk of melanoma. The truly healthy glow is your natural skin color.
• Controlled tanning is not safe tanning. People may have heard that indoor tanning is the safer way to tan because you can control your level of exposure to UV rays. When in reality indoor tanning exposes you to intense UV rays, increasing your risk of melanoma.
Avoiding indoor tanning and protecting yourself from the sun when outdoors are the best ways to reduce your chance of getting skin cancer. For more information about the truth of tanning, visit www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/burningtruth. For more information about the FDA’s recent sunlamp requirement changes, visit http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm399222.htm.