Sunkissed vs Sunburnt

Samantha Tosado

Bronzed bodies, repetitive sunbathing raise debate about the benefits and drawbacks of tanning

Summertime is known for its ice-cream, bikinis and, of course, the infamous tan.

As hot days and long nights become few and far between, a wide variety of people wonder how they can maintain their dark bronze skin tone.

Many turn to tanning salons in hopes that this will cure this problem.

The real question, however, is whether maintaining this bronze look is really worth the skin damage.

Today’s studies show the long term effects that come with tanning can result in high health risks that many people may not fully understand.

Megan McAlister, a freshman fashion merchandising major, said she chooses to ignore the facts.

“There’s so many things that people say you can die from, so I stopped caring,” McAlister said.

“I smoke and everyone says that causes cancer too. I’ll worry about it when I’m older.”

Whatever one’s reason for tanning might be, the benefits and the drawbacks should be fully considered before stepping back into the tanning booth again.

Contact features reporter Samantha Tosado at [email protected].

•Relaxed moods

Using tanning beds reportedly gives people better, relaxed moods. states that serotonin levels are increased with higher levels of vitamin D, thus making people feel less depressed.

•Skin damage

For some, tanning may help skin look healthier and seem more tolerable.

“Of course I like to be tan, but I have eczema, and tanning helps that a lot,” said Beth Reppermund, a sophomore exercise physiology major. However, in the long-term perspectives, using a tanning bed can cause dry, rough skin, and even hives while prematurely aging skin.

•Fit and healthy feelings

Many people who use a tanning bed like the way that having tanned skin makes them feel.

“I tan because it brings self confidence,” sophomore art major Kathleen McMannis said. “I don’t have to wear as much makeup.” McMannis said that she likes to go in moderation and is attentive to the dangers of tanning.

“I’m just naive about it. I do it at my own risk,” she said.

•The Food and Drug Administration,

the Center for Disease Control and the American Academy of Dermatology consider tanning beds to be “probable health hazards.” It is estimated that more than one million people are diagnosed with melanoma, the most common type of skin cancer, annually. The culprit? Tanning beds.

•Production of melanin

Melanin, which is produced through sun exposure, helps protect the skin from being burned by over-exposure to ultraviolet rays.

•Tanned skin = damaged skin

Ironically, the tanned-skin look many people prize isn’t healthy. In reality, tanned skin is damaged skin. It’s turned darker because the body has produced melanin in an effort to protect itself from the ultraviolet rays.

•Production of Vitamin D

Bodies produce vitamin D when exposed to natural or artificial sunlight. According to the National Institute of Health, vitamin D helps maintain levels of calcium and phosphorus, which leads to strong bones. It also helps maintain a healthy immune system.

•Eye damage

Using a tanning bed without protecting one’s eyes properly can easily cause burns in the corneas, retinal damage and cataracts.