Tanning: Are there any benefits?


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Sitting in my dorm room I had literally no idea what to write about for this blog. My roommate and I were complaining as usual about how tired we were and how we didn't have the energy to do our homework. Finally she gave up and declared that she was going to go do something she wanted to do instead and go tanning.

This got me thinking, everyone is quick to say how bad tanning in tanning beds is, including me, but are there any possible benefits of going tanning? Everyone's heard that indoor tanning will increase your chances of melanoma or other skin cancers and in the end that the momentary changes in skin tone aren't worth the life long consequences. Personally, I've never gone indoor tanning as my mom has survived two different types of cancer and I've just never wanted to risk adding a third cancer into the mix. But I thought it would be interesting to look at the opposite side of the story and research possible benefits to tanning.

To begin I researched if the links between tanning and cancer were really as concrete as everyone believed. According to the tanningtruth.com, while melanoma has been linked to UV exposure the direct relationship has not been clear. Apparently melanoma is more common in people who work indoors than people that work outdoors and it commonly appears on parts of the body that are not regularly exposed to sunlight. While these aren't defining facts to prove tanning doesn't cause melanoma, it just goes to show that a relationship has been scientifically established. Today scientists have determined that smoking does cause cancer, but do not understand how, while with tanning scientists have not determined definitely that UV exposure causes melanoma.

People feel that indoor tanning is more dangerous than just being outdoors because you are exposed to high levels of UV in short periods of time, while when your outdoors the UV exposure is lower for longer periods of time. But each indoor tanning facility treats skin types differently. Based on the type of skin you have you sit in the booth for shorter or longer amounts of time, which progressively increase with each week. But again are there any benefits?

As I continued to research I was surprised to find that their supposedly are a few benefits to tanning. Tanning is often referred to as nature's sunscreen. When girls claim they want to get themselves a base tan, they aren't just making that up. By tanning more frequently, the epidermis, or top skin layer, actually thickens to help make the body more resistant to sunburn. Also tanning supposedly helps clearing the skin of disease or facial acne. Many people utilize tanning beds to help their acne, psoriasis, eczema, vitiligo, or even to increase their vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is a big part of keeping our bodies healthy. Those who have the normal amounts of Vitamin D are linked to a reduction of 105 diseases, but surprisingly almost 77% of the American population is Vitamin D deficient.

I truly was surprised to find that there were scientists that honestly believe that there a benefits of indoor tanning. But I guess an even better question would be do the benefits outweigh the risks?

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4 Comments

I used to work at a tanning salon back home, and when I first started working there I remember thinking how weird it was that we had such a large number of customers who were older men. But as it turned out, they weren't just trying to get their tan on, like you said in your post they used tanning to help with their psoriasis or eczema. Even though I know the negative effects usually outweigh the positive, in moderation tanning beds can be a good thing! I'm glad you did a post on the positive effects of tanning because I think a lot of people think there is nothing good about it except that it makes you not pale. Good post (:

Coming from a girl who goes tanning as well, I found this blog really interesting and a great idea! I thought it was a really good idea also that you immediately looked into whether indoor tanning is directly related to cancer, especially skin cancer. As you and others obviously know, everyone's reaction to indoor tanning is, "You're going to get skin cancer!" I don't think people realize the dangers of outdoor tanning. When people use very low SPF sunscreens or none at all when they are sunbathing at the beach, it is just as bad if not worse. I think this article was really enlightening because so many people have such negative thoughts about tanning but there are really some positive aspects, including, like you said, the addition of vitamin D. I found this website after reading this blog about the positive effects of tanning as well that you may find interesting! Benefits of Tanning

I, being naturally dark, have never gone tanning. At my high school though so many girls went tanning. Before every event or even just because they were bored, girls would go to tanning salons and either tan through a bed or get a spray tan. I always thought it was dangerous and not worth the risk. I always had negative thoughts about tanning because I believed it was superficial and not worthy of the time, money, and possible future harms. After reading this article I have been enlightened to some possible benefits and am not as skeptical of the girls at my high school anymore. I always used to tan outside, and it might just be the same thing as tanning in a bed. I went to a nutritionist before i came to school and she told me that we need vitamin D in our bodies and you get that from the sun. I didn't believe that lying in the sun gave you benefits. Thanks for the great article!!

I think there's a line between casually tanning and going completely overboard. I know girls who only got one or two tans before senior trip, prom, etc., but there were other girls in my high school who went to tanning salons nearly every day, as common as eating a meal. I think the benefits you describe in your post (tough epidermis, clear skin) are satisfied if you don't tan regularly, but I'm not sure you would see those same results if you looked at someone who tans everyday. Think about it: all that exposure has to cause some kind of harm to your skin, and you develop wrinkles much earlier than you should. That goes without even referencing the disgusting ring of orange that rubs on your shirt after you are finished (coming from a Catholic high school where the winter uniform was a white collared shirt with a sweater on top, I distinctly remember seeing orange girls with stains on their collared shirts). Not to mention, someone that tans everyday just looks odd at a certain point. I'm glad you brought this up!

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