Suntan Safety

From the Amelia Island Beaches to the Suntan Salons during historic cold spells, people need a little sunshine for Vitamin D.

Tanning Bed Safety

Tanning Bed Safety

Since coming back from the Caribbean Islands where we always carried a deep suntan, my wife and I have now noticed a steady paling of our skin color and possibly a general feeling of less healthy. With the recent cold spell in our bones, we have actually looked up Sun Tanning Salons in the area, something we would have considered ludicrous until recently. After all this is Florida!

And true to form, the sun has been shining like a copper God during the cold spell, but frankly I have not even visited my porch in 2 weeks. The breeze coming off the ocean is just too much of a polar attack.
So our dilemma is what is it going to be? A trip to the tropics or an occasional visit to the local tanning salon?
Well considering the recent misery attached to air travel and the overactive earthquake zones, we are leaning towards the tanning booth, were it not for all the negativity surrounding these bikini clad store fronts since the World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced that it has elevated sun beds, used for tanning by tens of millions of people in the US alone, to its highest cancer risk category — at the same level as mustard gas and arsenic.

Say what? Mustard Gas and Arsenic are as bad for you as Suntanning in a salon?

Come on you morons out there who issue blanket warnings about the dangers of tanning by both natural and artificial means. Don’t you bullies think you have gone a bit too far now? Why do we always have to go overboard when warning people against negative effects. Sure it’s true that excessive exposure to ultraviolet UVA and UVB rays can cause skin cancer, but moderate exposure to sun or other light is not harmful and actually facilitates good health by enabling your body to manufacture a key nutrient — vitamin D.

When I lived and worked in the Netherlands in the mid 1970’s a friend gave me one of the first sun tanning beds on the market. Actually it was not even a bed; it was a bed size square box with a motor and push button to lower the concoction while I was laying on the bed. I had it installed into the ceiling of a spare bedroom, put a single bed and a stereo in the room and every single evening during those nasty Dutch winters, I “cooked” 30 minutes on one side and 30 minutes on the other sides. It was warm since I liked to lower it as close to my body as possible. I sometimes smelled a little burned when I fell asleep, as it did not have all the fancy shut offs yet. I had a tan George Hamilton would have killed for.

No doubt that today’s bulbs are stronger and possibly more skin damaging, but 35 years later I can honestly say that my fair Dutch skin has not suffered from Sunbed over exposure.

Moderation is the Key

For most people, spending 10 to 20 minutes outdoors each day will provide all the vitamin D you need and probably will give you an nice even tan and natural sunlight is best as we are genetically “primed” to use it for vitamin D synthesis. But when sunshine is scarce — for example, if you live in the northern US during cold and gray winter months — you can replace what you’re missing by visiting a tanning salon from time to time, keeping in mind that tanning beds deliver a more intense and concentrated dose of ultraviolet radiation, which does pose a greater threat of skin cancer.

The degree to which you can safely bask in the sun or on a sun bed is determined by factors such as your ethnicity, skin type and pigmentation, whether you freckle easily or have a lot of moles, cumulative sun exposure, medical history and general vulnerability to sunburn or skin cancer. Put simply, the darker your skin, the more natural protection you possess against the dangers of UV radiation and the longer you can safely spend on the beach or in the tanning booth.
Staying on the side of caution taking into account your individual risk factors, is always the smart thing to do, followed by the next step which is to locate a reputable and clean tanning salon.

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