Damaging effects leave customers questioning tans

Kira Meixner

Skin-types one, two have greatest risk for getting carcinoma

Although tanning is not guaranteed to cause skin cancer, it is guaranteed to increase the risk of developing it, said Eliot Mostow, dermatologist at the Akron General Medical Center.

There are three types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. The carcinomas are more common but seldom life threatening, while melanoma is less common but extremely dangerous. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one person dies every hour from skin cancer, primarily melanoma.

Mostow said going into a tanning bed increases likelihood of developing a non-melanoma skin cancer.

“This type of cancer could chew up your nose, take off your ear or leave a big scar on your face,” Mostow said.

Tanning is a short-term fix that makes people think they will look better, Mostow said. However, many of the negative effects of tanning are permanent. Tanning will increase the aging process and make skin wrinkly sooner.

“If you want to look old and leathery, it is definitely the most effective way,” he said.

Monte Fox, a dermatologist at Robinson Memorial Hospital, said the UVA rays used in tanning beds have a longer wavelength than UVB rays, which were previously used by many tanning salons, and therefore cause deeper damage to the skin. Despite these dangers, he said people continue to tan because of the misconception that tanning makes you look healthy.

“It is a false concept,” Fox said. “People don’t realize the short-term effect wears off, and the long-term damage is pretty incredible.”

Tanning is the body’s response to injury, Fox said. Sun damage causes dryness, color changes, wrinkling and loss of elasticity in the skin.

According to the Center for Devices and Radiological Health, melanoma has a suspected link to UVA exposure. People with skin-type one and two are at greatest risk of developing skin cancer. Skin-type one always burns, never tans and is very sensitive. Skin-type two burns easily and tans minimally.

The risk of skin cancer from tanning is about the same for all ages, Mostow said, but people can accumulate a lot of risk early in their lives. Some may believe the damage is already done, but he said people can lower their risk if they stop tanning now.

Hayley Black, sophomore fashion merchandising major, said she does not go tanning.

“I don’t go because I smoke, and my mom had skin cancer,” she said. “I don’t want to double my risk of getting cancer.”

Contact health and medical reporter Kira Meixner at [email protected].