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Tanning Beds And Skin Cancer - The Controversy

One of the more interesting discussions with regard to skin cancer prevention has to do with the use of tanning beds or booths that use ultraviolet radiation to produce a cosmetic tan. Basically the tanning beds use several fluorescent lamps that are specifically designed to emit ultraviolet rays in a spectrum that comes close to simulating the sun's rays. The controversy concerns the possibility of overuse of this product and thus creating a vulnerability to skin cancer.

There is no question that a certain amount of sunlight on our skin can have some great health benefits. Besides making us feel a little more cheerful - one of the primary ways that our body produces Vitamin D is through sunshine and this vitamin is essential to help regulating certain processes in our bodies that protect normal growth and health.

Years ago there wasn't as much concern over the issue of sun bathing or tanning - even though the danger of over doing it was always a possibility. However, with the modern issues of environmental pollution and the depletion of the ozone layer the risk has become greater that by not limiting our exposure to the sun's UV rays we will be more likely to get some form of skin cancer. And the statistics seem to indicate that this is the case in that in recent decades - skin cancer has become one of the most fastest growing cancers.

While for some skin conditions a dermatologist may use ultraviolet rays to treat certain conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, by far the most active use of this source is for cosmetic purposes. And it has been found that young women use tanning salons more than young men. In line with this there has been found to be a higher incidence of skin carcinomas with young women.

Tanning beds use a spectrum of light rays that includes a combination of largely UVA and sometimes UVB wavelengths. And while it can be argued that they can do no more harm than natural sunlight might - it has to be acknowledged that the danger is not so much in having some exposure but rather in the overuse of this product. Unfortunately, with a lot of individual's it seems that they feel that if something is basically okay - then where's the harm in indulging?

The World Heath Organization has given its recommendation that for people younger than 18, tanning beds should be banned. Not only because a lot of damage can be done to young skin that will reap repercussions later on in life but also because it is understood that not all young people may be able to exercise good judgment with regard to regulating the use of this product. In some countries such as France this law is already in place. California as well has adopted this same policy.

Whether or not an individual decides that use of a tanning bed presents only a minimal risk factor there is no disputing the fact that over exposure to UV rays will damage the skin. And tanning beds allow for more opportunity year round to expose one's skin to this light. Damaged skin becomes more vulnerable to developing some form of skin carcinoma.

And it is always good to bear in mind that just because one individual is not affected does not mean that someone else will not be. Each person's genetic makeup is unique. So in just the same manner that we would exercise caution with regard to normal sunlight it is encouraged that we do the same if we are considering a tanning salon. Do not rely on the promises of someone who is trying to sell you on it.

Taking the time to analyze your reasons for doing it and weighing it against any risks will help you find the best balance for your continued good health.

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