What a horrible, horrible truth.
Although, I say that as someone who has, in the past, enjoyed more than a few minutes under that blue, UV-ridden light. Hey, I can’t help that it’s relaxing. The problem is, though, that it can becoming addicting. Case in point: the American Academy of Dermatology have put out some new, alarming numbers which say that there are an average of 42 tanning salons in any given city. That’s more tanning salons than there are Starbucks (they average 19 per city) or McDonald’s (they average 30 per city). I mean…that’s a lot of tanning oil and goggles in one area.
It’s estimated that one million people use a tanning bed each day in the U.S., and that the industry has made in the low billions in revenue for the past few years. And now seems to be the busiest time, as the temperatures warm and prom season approaches – everyone wants to start off with a little premature glow before summer arrives (which always looks a little suspicious during those April showers).
But that glow can be a costly one, and we’re not just talking about that monthly tanning package (although, that’s a pretty penny too). The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that those who start using a tanning bed before the age of 35 have a 75 percent greater risk of developing melanoma, the most lethal form of skin cancer. That’s a huge, terrifying percentage. And the UV rays that these beds emit have been labelled as “known carcinogens,” which means that the light is a confirmed cause of cancer. That’s enough to make habitual tanners shake in their boots.
But this, I feel, isn’t really any sort of breaking news – my mother has told me tanning was awful for your skin for years and years. But yet, I still ignored her warnings and plopped myself in the brightest coffin known to man – and I’ve done it many times since (not my most intelligent moments, I will admit). Why is that?
What is it about tanning that makes it first, appealing, and then so addictive? I will say, for better or worse, it’s a pretty effective way to unwind – in fact, during one of my finals weeks in college, my friend and I would take tanning breaks in order to clear our minds a bit. Believe me, it sounds stupid to me now, too. But then, there also seems to be an addiction to having that golden tint, that somehow, having a certain caliber tan makes you more attractive or more desirable. Granted, I supposed we all look better with a little color, but at what cost?
Do any of you use a tanning bed? If so, how often do you go? Do you think we should cut back on the number of tanning salons in our cities because of their health risks?