Tanning Beds And Skin Cancer

Summer is coming, and so now I’m starting to see teenage girls coming in abnormally brown. There’s a lockdown, you can’t travel, and it’s Cleveland. I know you’re not laying out in the backyard. If you’re tanned, you’ve been in a tanning bed.

For twenty years I’ve been talking to patients and parents about the dangers of tanning beds. The most important risk (although not the only one) is the link between tanning beds and skin cancer.

The good news is that indoor tanning is becoming less common. Educational and public service programs seem to be raising awareness of the dangers. However, millions of adults still use indoor tanning beds every year, increasing their risk of skin cancer.

Credit: CDC.gov

There is good news about tanning bed use in teens. It is clear from surveys that use among teenagers is going down as well. But it is still obvious that tanning bed use is problematic in young women and teens.

Indoor tanning increases the risk of melanoma skin cancer by 15% after only ONE session. Use before age 35 increases the risk by 75%. The damage is cumulative, the more it is used the higher the risk.

If tanning is so dangerous, why do people do it? There is a lot of misinformation about indoor tanning out there. Tanning salons promote questionable health benefits and minimize the risks. Tanning beds often provide very high UV exposure, sometimes as much as 15 times the exposure one would receive from the sun.

One of the misconceptions is that indoor tanning is a “safe” tan. Young women in particular believe that a tanning bed is less dangerous and can provide a “base tan” before being outside in the sun. Research is clear however that the tanning process requires DNA damage. Whether one is tanning indoors or outdoors, it is NOT safe and increases the risk of skin cancer.

The only known benefit of UV exposure is the production of vitamin D in the skin. However, the level of UV exposure received in indoor tanning is complete overkill for vitamin D production. Vitamin D supplements are much safer and more effective for getting to a normal blood level of vitamin D.

Both indoor and outdoor tanning increase the risk of skin cancer, but tanning beds are much more dangerous. Wearing sunscreen, sunglasses and light-weight light-colored clothing, avoiding sun exposure during peak hours and taking a vitamin D supplement is the best approach to protecting your skin AND your health.

QUESTION: Do you use tanning beds?

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3 Best Ways To Survive Quarantine

Raise your hand if you are TIRED of quarantine. (Yes, that’s my hand waving in the air too…) We’re all managing, but are we really thriving? I think we’re all just waiting for life to get back to normal. Feels a bit like the end of pregnancy, if you ask me.

It’s uncomfortable and you don’t really care WHAT happens, as long as SOMETHING happens. And you know perfectly well that “old normal” is loooooooong gone, but you just are so eager to have it over with that you can miss some of the magic.

Everyone seems to have advice on how to make the best of this Great Pause. I have three suggestions of the best ways to survive quarantine, how we can come out of this situation better than when we went in.

Rest

One thing that really characterizes our culture is HUSTLE. We are SO busy that we rarely get the time to stop and take a few deep breaths.

Well the hustle is done for now. Rest assured, it isn’t done for good, but for this period we are forced to do less, to take a break. Take advantage of this time.

Sleep. Really commit to getting 7-8 hours of sleep at night, if at all possible. Do things just for the joy of them, without guilt. Work crossword puzzles or read a book or take long bubble baths. Binge a good Netflix series.

Rest. Take a break. It’s OK, the world can clearly take care of itself for a minute. You can take care of YOU.

Connect

One other thing that characterizes our culture in America right now is lack of connection. We work all day but don’t really know our coworkers. Our kids are in day care, school, after care programs, we don’t spend much time with them. Our siblings and parents and friends are even lower on the list.

Make a commitment to reach out to someone you’ve lost touch with. Call your parent or another older adult EVERY DAY just to say hello and check on them. It means more than you know. Play with your kids. Ride bikes. Learn how to play Magic or Pokemon or Dungeons & Dragons. Teach them your favorite recipes. (Christmas cookies in May? Sure, why not!)

I’ve heard it said that our kids someday may not remember much about fear and death, masks and hand sanitizer, not being able to go to the movies or the mall. But they might very well remember this was a time of pillow forts and board games, cooking and playing outside, going for walks and just hanging out with the most important people in their lives. You.

Learn Something New

If you are REALLY bored, look online for something new to learn. There are lots of community colleges offering courses online. Many museums are offering virtual tours for free. DuoLingo, Babbel and other language-learning apps make learning a new language fun. Start a blog. Take it from me, I’ve learned more from writing this blog than you have!

Life will get busy again very soon. Those on leave or unemployed will go back to work as the economy lumbers back to life. In this time before the hustle starts again, it’s great to rest, to cocoon with your people, and to work on YOU.

QUESTION: What has been your coping strategy for this quarantine period?

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