Five Reasons to Give Up Tanning In the New Year


New York, NY (December 30, 2009) - From a groundbreaking new study confirming that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is the most common cause of melanoma to the proposed tax on the use of indoor tanning beds, there are a host of compelling reasons to give up tanning in the new year. "Tanning is harmful and unnecessary," said Perry Robins, MD, President, The Skin Cancer Foundation. "Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US. Tanning avoidance and effective sun protection are the most important prevention measures one can take."

1. Studies Link UV Exposure to Melanoma
According to a definitive new study by researchers at The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, the vast majority of mutations found in melanoma are caused by ultraviolet radiation. For the first time, the researchers identified thousands of mutations that occur in melanomas due to radiation, viruses, and other causes. Above all, these mutations are caused by damage to the skin cells' DNA by ultraviolet (UV) radiation. According to the Institute, "The melanoma genome contains more than 33,000 mutations, many of which bear the imprint of the most common cause of melanoma - exposure to ultraviolet light."

In addition, The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a working group of the World Health Organization, published a landmark report this summer based on exhaustive research placing the UV radiation produced by tanning beds among the most dangerous forms of radiation for humans, alongside other forms including radon and plutonium as well as solar UV radiation. The research cited by the IARC included studies showing that first exposure to tanning beds in youth increases melanoma risk by 75 percent.

2. Tanning Beds Increase the Risk of Nonmelanoma Skin Cancers
People who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer and can be highly disfiguring if not detected and treated at an early stage. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer and is more likely to metastasize and lead to death if not caught early. Approximately 2,500 people die every year from SCC. Studies shows that people with a history of nonmelanoma skin cancers, such as squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma, face twice the risk of developing other malignancies, such as lung cancer, colon and breast cancer.

3. UV Exposure Causes Skin Aging

Up to 90 percent of the visible changes commonly attributed to aging are caused by UV exposure. The cellular damage caused by ultraviolet radiation is cumulative and often irreversible. The destructive process of photoaging - premature skin aging due to UV exposure - produces profound structural changes in the skin including fine wrinkles, deep grooves, blotchiness, sagging and a leathery texture. Some of these changes may appear as early as in one's twenties in people who have spent a great deal of time exposing their skin to UV radiation during childhood and teen years.

4. Tanning is No Longer Fashionable
Celebrities, models and fashion insiders all know tanning is no longer in style. Countless celebrities such as Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams, Rachel Weisz and Nicole Kidman would never alter their inherently natural beauty and risk damaging their skin by tanning. Sarah Brown, Vogue's Beauty Director, states it best. "A healthy glow does not mean a tan. A healthy glow means your natural skin tone glowing." Jane Larkworthy, Beauty Director of W, adds, "I can't remember the last time I saw a tanned model in my magazine or on the runway. Skin that is not tan is gorgeous."

5. Proposed tax on indoor tanning
The US Senate's approval of a 10 percent excise tax on the use of indoor tanning beds as part of the new healthcare reform bill (H.R. 3590) is an important step forward in the fight against skin cancer. This proposed tax, similar to the sin tax on cigarettes, will hopefully serve a double purpose, not only raising billions for health care, but giving people one more excellent reason to protect their health by staying away from tanning salons.