The Dangers of Tanning and Why you Should Protect Your Skin from the Sun

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If you’re a woman who worships the sun, it’s important to understand the dangers of tanning and how it can damage your skin. Unfortunately, despite warnings, too many people continue to tan.  Many still believe that having a tan makes them look healthy, but it is actually the opposite.

Dangers of Tanning and Why you Should Protect Your Skin from the Sun

A tan indicates that your skin is trying to protect itself when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.  The dangers of tanning are directly linked to this UV radiation is what contributes to premature aging such as wrinkles, cataracts in the eyes, skin cancers, and altered immune systems.

So, even if you are younger now and think it’s safe, consider the dangers of tanning and how it will affect your skin and health in later years.

What kinds of UV radiation exist?

The danger of tanning include direct exposure to UVA, UVB, and UVC radiation.  UVA is the longest wavelength, and UVC is the shortest wavelength.  UVC is a lesser concern when it comes to tans and sunburns, as most of it gets absorbed by the ozone layer before getting to the earth.

What does UV radiation do exactly that it causes so much damage?

The UV radiation penetrates the skin, which can damage and cause mutations in the cells of the skin. UVA penetrates the skin more deeply than UVB, but both are dangerous for the cells of your skin.

Studies have shown that both types of rays are responsible for contributing to the aging in people’s skin and eyes, as well as resulting in skin cancers. UVA rays are now known to be even more dangerous than originally thought, even though UVA has been known as the one associated with tans, and UVB with getting sunburns.

What do tanning beds use?

Tanning beds often emit high levels of UVA, even higher than the sun emits.  Despite tanning salons telling their patrons that tanning this way is safer, it actually is not.  If you are a parent who has always used tanning beds, it’s especially important to let your children and teens know these dangers as they are at even more risk.  Because their bodies are still growing, it puts their young skin cells at an even higher risk of mutation, increasing the dangers of tanning.

But what about Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is produced in your body when you are exposed to the sun’s rays and which makes many people believe tanning is good for them. Vitamin D is especially important in preventing osteoporosis (weak, brittle bones), but it is also important in improving your immune system functioning.

Those living in cooler climates are more at risk of Vitamin D deficiencies, but can get Vitamin D from some food sources, as well as supplements. However, many people still believe, and many salons will try to convince you that tanning is a healthy way to get your Vitamin D.

Fortunately, a study done at St. John’s Institute of Dermatology, King’s College London, has shown that you can still get adequate levels of Vitamin D by slathering on sunscreen with an SPF 15.  Some (but not all – that is why it is still recommended you use sunscreen) of the UVB rays pass through the sunscreen, thus allowing your body to produce Vitamin D.

Overall, it’s important to remember that tanned skin does not represent health.  It is the body’s way of trying to protect itself from UV radiation.  Whether you use direct sunlight to tan or lay in a tanning bed, you are putting your entire body at risk.

If you want a bit of color, it is far better to use a self tanning skin lotion than to ruin your skin through tanning. And if you will be outdoors for any extended period of time use a strong sunscreen in a range of SPF 30 or higher.

If you want to ensure you get adequate Vitamin D levels, it is better to take supplements and eat a healthier diet. Remember, that overall well being and healthy skin, hair and nails can be achieved from eating a vitamin enriched diet.

 So the next time you get outdoors and want to get a tan, instead think about how you can protect your skin from the sun and stay healthier.


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