‘Benefits now outweigh consequences later’

Brianne Carlon

Tanning effects do little to deter students from harmful rays

Gregg Hiller, senior sports management and marketing major, tans at Darque Zone about once a week. Darque Zone, located on state Route 59 across from Acme, has been open about a year and a half.

Credit: Andrew popik

When the snow starts falling and the sun stops shining, many students are tempted to head straight to the nearest tanning salon in search of that “natural” glow.

Their minds are filled with thoughts of rosy cheeks and cute freckles — there is often no room left to think about the dangers of tanning.

Some damage from tanning includes wrinkles, brown age spots and leathery, sagging skin. UVA rays emitted from tanning beds penetrate into the lower level of skin, which causes aging. UVB rays burn the upper layer of skin, which could eventually become melanoma, a fatal skin cancer. If people don’t wear goggles behind closed doors, they increase their risk of eye burns or other damage to the eye.

According to a study in Archives of Dermatology, an estimated 25 million Americans use tanning equipment every year.

“The benefits now outweigh the consequences later,” said Megan Raybuck, a sophomore fashion design major. “You feel better about yourself when you are tanned because you look better.”

Gregg Hiller, a senior sport management and marketing major, agrees.

“Tanning improves your aesthetics toward the opposite sex and in turn heightens one’s own self image,” he said.

Students find ways of justifying the negative long-term effects of tanning.

“I always think it won’t happen to me,” Raybuck said. “I make excuses for myself like I have dark skin and other dark features.”

Although the thought of becoming a “leather handbag” enters her mind after every trip to the tanning salon, it is not enough to keep her away.

Hiller said he grew up playing outside, which gives him the confidence he needs to continue tanning without giving much thought to the future.

“I grew up hanging out on boats and playing outdoor sports,” he said. “I have a higher tolerance for the sun.”

The only thing that would stop Hiller from tanning would be finding out someone his age with the same habits developed cancer; however, dermatologists are seeing more cases of cancer developing in young adults in their twenties as opposed to people in their fifties or older.

Raybuck insisted she would stop tanning and make the habit of getting an airbrush tan if it were cheaper. Airbrushing costs between $15 and $25 and lasts about one week.

Darque Zone owner Jim Simmons claims there are many other benefits of tanning in addition to a sun-kissed glow.

“It can lower cholesterol and decrease the chances of getting breast and colon cancer,” he said.

It also helps control Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Simmons did give some tips for tanning safely: “Start slow, build up and don’t overdo it,” he said. “Anything in moderation is how you do it.”

Contact student life reporter Brianne Carlon at blca[email protected].