Indoor Tanning – What Young Women Should Know

Young women aged 15-29 years old are developing melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – at a much higher rate than young men in the same age group. I have witnessed this unfortunate trend firsthand among my Thousand Oaks skin cancer patients.

One behavior that may be at least partially to blame is indoor tanning. Young women are far more likely to use indoor tanning beds than young men, which may explain the alarming rate of melanoma among this group.

Although most of us understand that limiting our exposure to ultraviolet light is key to preventing skin cancer, millions of young women continue to use indoor tanning facilities. This may be due to several myths about indoor tanning:

Myth #1: Indoor tanning is safer than the sun. – There is no such thing as a healthy tan, yet many teens believe that indoor tanning beds “filter out” the harmful rays that cause skin cancer. The fact is, UV exposure from indoor tanning is similar to, and in some cases stronger than, that from the sun.

Myth #2: Skin cancer only affects older people. – While this may have been true in the past, skin cancer is skyrocketing among young women, many of whom have a history of indoor tanning.

Myth #3: Occasional tanning isn’t risky. – Many young women feel that getting an indoor tan for a special event or upcoming vacation won’t increase their risk of skin cancer. However, the UVA rays used in indoor tanning cause deeper skin damage and are strongly linked to melanoma. Therefore any use of indoor tanning facilities can increase your risk of deadly skin cancer.

I tell all of my Ventura County dermatology patients that the best way to be sure that you’re not putting yourself at risk for skin cancer is to protect yourself from all sources of UV radiation. Focus on keeping your skin healthy and beautiful, no matter what your natural skin color.

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