Australia is a nation of achievers, including achieving the dubious honour of having the highest rate of skin cancer in the world.
Did you know that two in three Australians are likely to be diagnosed with skin cancer before their 70th birthday? Despite the warnings, some people continue to believe that getting a tan is perfectly healthy.
What is a tan?
A tan is the changing of skin colour to a darker tone as the pigment in skin cells change in response to ultraviolet radiation. This darker colour is a sign of damage, the product of your body attempting to protect you from harmful UVA and UVB rays. Sunburn is one of the first and most obvious signs of trauma as your body increases blood flow to the affected area and gives you that painful, burning sensation.
Sun Tanning and Solariums
You are putting yourself in serious danger whether you choose to tan from the sun or solarium. Some people however still believe that a solarium induced tan is safer than the sun. As a result, in 2009, the International Agency for Research on Cancer decided to put solariums in its highest cancer risk category, labelling them as ‘carcinogenic to humans’. In 2011, Australian research also discovered that solarium users are exposed to UV levels up to six times the strength of the midday sun!
Often initially detected as an abnormal mole, melanoma is a cancer that begins in the top layer of skin where melanin is produced. Treatment for early stage melanoma is surgery, however when the cancer has spread to other parts of the skin or body, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or immunotherapy may be required. Melanoma is responsible for 75% of skin cancer deaths.
In the long-term, UV rays can lead to cataracts resulting in decreased vision and potentially, blindness. In the short-term, you can experience Photokeratitis, described as like having sunburned eyes. Pain, having the uncomfortable feeling of sand in your eye, tearing, swollen eyelids and decreased vision are all common symptoms.
Immune System Suppression.
The body’s immune system can be weakened to the extent where it cannot fight infection adequately, making you more susceptible to illness. You may also experience reactions to certain medications, supressed functioning of the skin’s natural defences and diminished effects of immunisations.
UV rays have the ability to break down collagen and elastin fibres in the skin. Over time this results in wrinkles, pigmentation spots, leathery skin, saggy skin and loss in suppleness.
Tanning is healthy. FALSE!
When skin cells change in colour through sun tanning an solarium use, the skin is receiving UV damage.
A melanoma is just a small growth that you can have cut out. FALSE!
Melanoma can spread very fast and if it’s not detected early, it can be fatal.
Solariums allow you to control the UV exposure, making them safe. FALSE!
Research has proven that solarium use increases the risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest of cancers.
A base-tan from a solarium or the sun will help to protect my skin from burning in the sun later. FALSE!
Tanning without burning still causes skin damage with UV rays beginning the cycle of skin trauma. Any extra melanin in tanned skin only provides an SPF of 2 to 4 – far below the recommended SPF 30+ in sunscreen.
If I take breaks while sun tanning then I’m less likely to get burned or damaged skin.FALSE!
The effect of sun tanning is cumulative, so the total amount of time spent outside is what counts.
A tan will help to dry up my acne. FALSE!
Sun exposure can cause the skin to become oilier, causing more breakouts.
A tan can make cellulite less noticeable. FALSE!
UV rays reduce the skins resilience long term – making cellulite worse.
If my skin feels cool and not warm, then I’m not getting sunburned as quickly.FALSE!
Your skin is receiving the same amount of UV radiation no matter how cool you feel, from lower temperatures, swimming, etc.