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As we wrap up the summer and ease into fall, leave it to the health mags to take another shot at tanning beds, albeit during some of the slowest times of the year for the tanning business.
The impetus for this comes from a news release posted on a site called Spectrum One News (Charlotte, NC) titled, “Skin Cancer Survivor Shares Story to Raise Awareness.” As I usually say, “let’s dig in.”
According to the story, Jennifer Thompson found out a few years ago that she had stage 3 melanoma which had started as a small mole on her leg.
Regrettably, she had to suffer through visits to an oncologist, a plastic surgeon and then, an infusion doctor. These treatments are really hard and the young girl was quite miserable. Looking back, she felt that her skin cancer could have been prevented. “That’s my biggest regret, using a tanning bed.”
Whoa! Slow down, Sylvester. That’s quite a jump to take. According to her (ahem) medical acumen, that small mole on her leg was caused by using a sunbed. So, tell the public how you made this connection. No information shared. How many times did you use a sunbed? What type of sunlamp was installed and what were the durations of those sessions? Tell us your lifetime history of exposure to natural sunlight and how many times you suffered through erythema (sunburn). What about any family history of skin cancer and the number of moles on your skin? Crickets … just crickets. Well, all of those factors play a significant role in the experience of the millions who choose to obtain UV exposure in a sunbed.
As usual, stories like this will pull in a doctor to provide expert comments. Enter Jennifer Dallas, MD, who states that “avoiding tanning beds, limiting sun exposure, wearing wide-brimmed hats and sunscreen of at least SPF 30 can help prevent skin cancer.” Sounds good.
So, Doc – what about the connection of skin cancer to heredity and mole coverage? No quote on that; but let’s bring in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which states that “people with a lighter natural skin color, blue or green eyes, blonde or red hair and/or more than 50 moles on their skin are at greater risk.” The same goes for those whose skin burns, reddens or freckles easily or has a history of skin cancer. Yes, that is correct! But the only connection Ms. Thompson makes to her melanoma is sunbed use. Remember? “… that’s my biggest regret, using a tanning bed.”
Thompson says that she became cancer-free in September and enjoys working out before dawn and dusk to avoid sun exposure and makes sure she wears sunscreen. Also, “keep an eye on the number of moles on your skin.” Well, that’s some prudent advice. Thanks for that connection (finally).
Millions of people weigh the risk and benefit of UV exposure and choose to seek a cosmetic tan in professional indoor tanning facilities where sessions are delivered according to individual skin type and a timer system to minimize the risk of overexposure and sunburn.
A 26-year industry veteran, Joe has taught certified salon operator training for the last 15 years, as well as advocating indoor tanning in many capacities. Joe is a sought-after speaker and presenter at both national & regional trade events, also interacting with the FDA, state & local regulatory agencies. During his most recent tenure with the ITA, he served as director of membership.
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