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It is really ironic that people avoid sunlight because of the harmful effects of the UV rays, but still indulge in their passion for tanning by opting for indoor tanning. In fact, indoor tanning is a huge business in the US and it is estimated that it rakes in $2 billion every year. There are around 25 thousand salons for tanning in the US and approximately 28 million people visit them each year, according the Skin Cancer Foundation. However, most of these people visiting indoor tanning salons do not know that spending time getting a tanned skin can result in skin cancer.
A study conducted in Sweden in 1994 found that women between the ages of 18 and 3 who visited indoor tanning salons ten or more times in a single year were seven times more likely to get melanoma compared to women who did not visit these tanning salons. This report is worrying considering the amount of time people spend in tanning salons to get a perfectly bronzed or brown body.
Another study found that people who had 10 sessions of tanning their full body showed a dramatic increase in proteins that repair the skin. This is a sign of extensive sun damage and proves that the UV rays in indoor tanning salons are as harmful as the UV rays that come from the sun. A study conducted by the Dartmouth Medical School in 2002 claims that people who resort to indoor tanning are 2.5 and 1.5 times likely to get squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma respectively.
Unfortunately, while there is so much scientific evidence available about skin cancer from indoor tanning salons, both people who visit these salons and the salons themselves are not worried or do not care. This could be because most people assume that melanoma occurs due to sunburn and when a person goes for indoor tanning, it is a controlled situation and therefore, helps to prevent melanoma by building up melanin in the skin. Furthermore, tanning salons also highlight that when the skin is exposed to UV light, it produces Vitamin D, which can prevent people from getting cancers, such as cancer of the breast, prostate and colon.
However, oncologists and health experts claim that these arguments for promoting indoor tanning are baseless. People can get sufficient amounts of Vitamin D by eating salmon and drinking milk. And, when a person is exposed to indoor tanning, it causes damage to the skin. This damage occurs at a genetic level in the cells and therefore increases the person's chances of getting melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Furthermore, exposure to indoor tanning also increases the rate at which the skin ages.
As there is a risk of getting skin cancer from indoor tanning, several attempts have been made to regulate and control this industry, but in vain. As a result the US FDA is trying to bring in more stringent measures to control tanning devices. However, these measures have not been adopted as yet, since the tanning industry has been fighting against them.
According to Michael Franzblau, who is a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California School of Medicine, bringing in regulations will not help to make indoor tanning safe and the only solution to ensure that people do not end up with skin cancer due to indoor tanning is by banning these salons completely. There are states that have laws that stipulate people have to wear eyewear to protect themselves from UV rays when getting an indoor tan or machine operators have to be present throughout the tanning session, and some states insist that tanning salons put up a sign saying that people who get sunburned easily are at a higher risk of suffering from skin damage. However, Dr. Franzblau feels that this is not sufficient to make people aware about the risk of skin cancer from indoor tanning salons. Hence, the only solution to prevent people from getting skin cancer from indoor tanning salons would be to ban them, according to Dr. Franzblau.
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The Skin Cancer Foundation: The Case Against Indoor Tanning