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Healthy Cells is a local health magazine with most of the articles written by local professionals. People love to read about healthcare from their local health professionals. Each month includes a wide variety of articles on various topics.
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Despite the well-known fact that tanning — whether from the sun or from indoor tanning lights — significantly increases the risk of developing skin cancer, indoor tanning remains a fairly common practice, particularly among white adolescent and young adult women. Recent estimates indicate that approximately 32 percent of U.S. white women aged 18 to 21 years have used an indoor tanning bed in the past 12 months, with an average of almost 28 sessions per year. Additionally, U.S. skin cancer rates continue to increase, leading to unnecessary mortality, disfigurement, and associated healthcare costs.

There is no doubt that many, if not most, cases of skin cancer could be prevented by limiting exposure to the damaging UV rays of the sun. Indoor tanning lights emit the same damaging UV rays as the sun. UV light damages the DNA of skin cells and interferes with the body's ability to fight cancer. So, why does indoor tanning remain a fairly popular practice? Aside from our culture that still promotes a bronzed body as being attractive and enhancing one’s beauty, there are several common misconceptions about indoor tanning that cause people to minimize the dangers and ignore the warnings.

You need to get a “base tan” before going on vacation where you’ll be in the sun.
There is no such thing as a “safe” tan. A tan is the body’s response to injury from UV rays. While it’s true that getting sunburn is more damaging than getting tan, a “base” tan causes damage to your skin and does little to protect you from future damage to your skin caused by UV exposure. People who tan indoors tend to do it on a regular basis. Some research shows that frequent tanning may even be addictive. The more often you tan, the more damage you do to your skin.

Tanning indoors is safer than tanning in the sun.
It is often thought that because the intensity of UV radiation and the time spent tanning can be controlled, indoor tanning is safer. The opposite is actually true. Indoor tanning is designed to give you high levels of UV radiation in a short time. They can be used at the same high intensity every day of the year — unlike the sun, whose intensity varies with the time of day, the season, and cloud cover.

Indoor tanning is a good way to get Vitamin D.
It is important to get adequate amounts of Vitamin D, and it’s true that UV radiation does help your body generate vitamin D, but you don’t need a tan to get that benefit. Fair and light-skinned people can get a healthy dose of vitamin D from 10 to 15 minutes of unprotected natural sun exposure on the face, arms, and hands two to three times a week. You also get Vitamin D through foods and supplements. If you are concerned about your level of vitamin D, ask your doctor to have it checked.
The development of melanoma and other skin cancers is a long process that doesn’t show up for decades. Young people generally do not worry about the future consequences to their health of behaviors they engage in today. This is why tanning is especially worrisome for teens and young adults, who are the primary demographic that uses tanning beds. It is also why Illinois, and many other states, have laws that ban anyone under 18 from indoor tanning salons.


Indoor tanning is dangerous and it also causes premature aging of the skin. A tanned appearance may seem attractive until the skin begins to look leathery years later. If you really want to have a tanned appearance, there are many sunless tanning lotions on the market that give excellent results. There are also airbrush spray tans that are applied by professional salons. While these are considered safe, they all contain DHA, which is a color additive that causes the skin to look tan.


We believe that everyone looks their best with whatever their natural skin tone is. Fake tans often look fake. Keep your skin healthy, use sunscreen everyday — even in the winter — and embrace your natural beauty.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, you may contact the Dermatology and Mohs Surgery Institute at 309-451-DERM (3376) or dermatologistbloomington.com. Dr. Leone and Dr. Schupbach, both residents of Bloomington, are board-certified dermatologists, specializing in medical and cosmetic dermatology, including the treatment of skin cancer, moles, acne, rashes, warts, and all skin disorders. Dr. Leone is one of the few Mohs-trained surgeons in the area. Their practice, is located at 3024 E. Empire St. 2nd floor (in the Advocate BroMenn outpatient center).


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