Tanning: the Sun Has a Dark Side

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Tanning: The Sun Has a Dark Side
The first indoor tanning beds were developed in 1906, by a medical research company named Heraeus. The main purpose of this tanning lamp was medicinal, used on patients with calcium deficiency disorders, to see if the increased sun light would build stronger bones, and help the body produce more calcium. As time progressed, it became apparent that Heraeus was onto something big with his invention. In the early 1970's the tanning bed’s use turned from medicinal to cosmetic, when a German scientist, Fredrick Wolff, decided to use the artificial sunlight on athletes, hoping to demonstrate that the tanning bed would increase their athletic aptitude. His timing was perfect. The golden tan was becoming a popular fashion trend, so Wolff used his acquired knowledge to tap into the fashion industry (Tanning Beds). He developed one of the greatest inventions of our time: The tanning bed. Across the nation tanning has grown to be a popular trend in our society. The deep, dark tan is a new craze sought by people, especially teens. It is that bronzed, sun-kissed outcome that instills a high sense of beauty in the person that has it. People will spend countless hours and money to acquire this wanted look, to strive for perfection. However, people overlook the long term effects that tanning does to our bodies. The government has made steps to improve peoples’ health and safety, and is starting to look at the dangers of indoor tanning. In California, the government has passed a law banning indoor tanning for adolescents. Allowing minors to tan may result in health consequences. Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer across the nation. There are three kinds: basal, squamous and melanoma. Basal and squamous are not as dangerous and do not occur as often as melanoma. The occurrence of melanoma, the most lethal form of skin cancer, has doubled in the U.S. since 1975 among women ages 15 to 29 (Hawaleshka, Danylo). Various cancer agencies believe that sun exposure is linked to most skin cancers. Reducing exposure to ultraviolet radiation would cut the number of new cancer cases, just as quitting smoking cuts cancer in tobacco addicts.

Teenagers are at an even greater risk for developing skin related diseases, such as melanoma. The continued use of a tanning lamp can be dangerous during these years. Joshua L. Fox, M.D, a dermatologist, says that teens, “are still experiencing tremendous growth at the cellular level, and, like other cells in the body, the skin cells are dividing more rapidly than they do during adulthood,” (Rados, Carol). When teens start at a young age they do not realize the damage they are doing to their skin, because the signs are not visible. Doctors are more concerned with the long-term consequences of adolescent tanning. The World Health Organization estimated in 2006 that up to 60,000 deaths worldwide are caused each year by excessive UV exposure and urged youths under 18 to steer clear of indoor tanning salons (Rawe, Julie). It is important to protect teenagers from the great risks of tanning, because their skin is so vulnerable at this age. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, pale was in. If a woman was tan they were either considered low class, from working in fields, or a prostitute. Woman did anything thing they could to keep their precious fair skin out of the sun’s fearful rays. “European women would casually twirl frilly parasols to shield themselves from the sun,” notes Stephen Katz, a sociology professor at Trent University (Hawaleshka, Danylo). Why is it that teens in the 21st century have this obsession with becoming tan? Trends have started to change and tans are now considered “cool.” Indoor tanning has become a dangerous addiction for many teens to crack. Danylo Hawaleshka compares tanning to other addictions saying that the, “sun is the new tobacco, which the young, especially, just can't quit” (Hawaleshka, Danylo). Teens...
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