The dangers of tanning: A misunderstood health risk

Credit: Unsplash+

Many Americans still believe that a tan makes a person look more attractive and healthy. This view persists despite warnings from health professionals about the dangers of excessive sun exposure.

A recent survey from the Orlando Health Cancer Institute reveals that nearly one-third of Americans think a tanned appearance is a sign of good health. This belief could lead to dangerous choices about spending time in the sun.

Dr. Rajesh Nair, an oncology surgeon at the institute, explains, “There’s no such thing as a healthy tan. What many see as a sign of vitality is actually an indication of skin damage.”

This misconception poses a challenge because the reality is quite the opposite: tanned skin signifies a higher risk of developing skin cancer.

The survey, carried out by Ipsos, also highlights a worrying trend among young adults, who are particularly prone to believing myths about sun protection. For instance, about 14% of adults under 35 think using sunscreen every day is worse than direct exposure to the sun.

Moreover, nearly one in four young adults mistakenly believe that staying hydrated by drinking water can prevent sunburns.

Dr. Nair stresses that there is no scientific evidence supporting the idea that drinking water can protect against sunburn. He also addresses concerns about sunscreen safety: “While some worry about the chemicals in sunscreens, the protective benefits of these products far exceed any potential risks.

For those concerned, mineral sunscreens that create a physical barrier against the sun are safe options, alongside wearing clothing designed to block UV rays.”

Brianna Starr, a 29-year-old who now uses sunscreen daily, understands the importance of skin protection from personal experience. Her approach to sun safety changed dramatically after her younger sister was diagnosed with melanoma at just 19 years old.

“I didn’t take skin health seriously in my younger years; I was more focused on getting a perfect tan. But seeing what my sister went through was a wake-up call,” Starr shares.

Now, Starr is proactive about her skin health, visiting a dermatologist every six months. She has had several moles checked, catching potential issues early.

She knows the importance of regularly applying a high SPF sunscreen, especially when outdoors, and reapplying it every two hours, or more often if swimming or sweating.

Dr. Nair points out the rise in skin cancer cases among young people, often detected in later stages due to a lack of awareness and early screening. He encourages everyone not just to enjoy outdoor activities but also to adopt effective sun protection measures.

The influx of information and misinformation available today makes it hard for many, like Starr, to distinguish between helpful advice and harmful myths. Social media platforms are flooded with health trends that may not always be based on factual information.

“A lot of what we see online, especially on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, might not be accurate,” Starr notes. “It’s easy to be swayed by what friends and influencers share, but it’s crucial to verify that information.”

With misinformation spreading quickly, understanding and implementing proper sun protection is more important than ever. As Dr. Nair emphasizes, while being active outdoors has numerous health benefits, protecting oneself from harmful UV rays can be lifesaving.

Regular check-ups with healthcare providers for skin evaluations are vital to catch any signs of skin cancer early, making treatment more likely to be successful. Thus, while the allure of a tan might be strong, the priority should always be on maintaining healthy, well-protected skin.

If you care about skin health, please read studies about top signs of diabetic skin disease, and Mediterranean diet could help lower the skin cancer risk.

For more information about skin health, please see recent studies about eating fish linked to higher risk of skin cancer, and results showing how to combat the effects of aging on your skin.

Copyright © 2024 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.