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Tanning Essay

Posted Dec 17 2008 12:00am
So, if you read my blog, then you know I recently started back to school. I am in the middle of an English Composition class and one of my assignments was to write an argument essay on a controversial issue. Well, I was having a hard time finding a topic to write on. The only thing that would come to mind was gay marriage. And then my brilliant husband said, "Um, why don't you write about tanning beds. You already know all the information to back up your paper." HELLO!! Why didn't I think of that?? So, anyway, I procrastinated and waited til the last hours to submit and I thought I had done horrible. I got my grade today and it was great! The paper is 15 points of my total grade and I got 14.75! I was so excited. So, here is my essay arguing that tanning beds cause cancer!

Dying for a Tan

Kerri Pierce

English Composition 122

Professor Alisa Moore

December 15, 2008

Bronzed and beautiful. In America today, the desire to be tanned has reached epic proportions and cases of skin cancer are on the rise. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, have consistently increased, especially for young women who frequent tanning salons ( The bottom line is that too much sun exposure can lead to a deadly diagnosis and tanning bed use contributes to these diagnoses.

Unfortunately, I have first hand knowledge of how too much sun can potentially kill. At the age of twenty-nine I was diagnosed with Stage III Metastatic Melanoma. I was an avid tanner and sun worshiper. I remember reading those signs each time I entered the tanning booth. You know, the ones that read beware: this could cause cancer. I thought to myself, “If that were true, how could people be allowed to tan?” Now I know how. The tanning industry is big and they have big bucks to support their cause. With more than one million people tanning each day in a salon, the industry boasts a more than $5 billion revenue each year (Indoor Tanning Fact).

Studies show that tanning beds increase a person’s chance of being diagnosed with melanoma by 55% (Indoor Tanning Contributes, 2006). However, the tanning industry has their own set of statistics. They like to take advantage of the fact that many Americans are Vitamin D deficient. And, what is the quickest way for a person to get a dose of Vitamin D? Through ultraviolet rays found from the sun and emitted from tanning beds. However, dermatologists are quick to point out that people who are Vitamin D deficient can get the vitamin replenished in much safer ways: pop a vitamin or drink a glass of milk. Don’t risk getting skin cancer just to up your intake of Vitamin D.

Another tactic used by tanning salons is to make use of the SAD phenomenon. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is caused by the body being deprived of sunlight. It can cause depression, fatigue, irritability and other symptoms. The best treatment is therapy through a light box, not a tanning bed. Physicians reiterate that exposing one’s skin to dangerous ultraviolet lights is too dangerous. Even the 2008 Vice-Presidential candidate Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin received some criticism when she made it public she had purchased a tanning bed to use at the governor’s mansion. Her purchase was to increase her Vitamin D levels and to avoid health risks and depression (Watson, 2008). I am a Palin fan, but I think she needs further education about the dangers of using tanning beds!

With today’s technology there are better ways to get that sun-kissed glow. Manufacturers of sunless tanning lotions have come a long way in the past decade. One can now get a tan in a can that does not make you look orange. I’ll be the first to admit that pasty skin is less attractive than bronze skin and if I feel the need to be brown, I will definitely reach for the sunless lotion. It’s a much safer option.
Not only are there the sunless lotions, but many celebrities are avoiding the beds and opting for airbrush tans. These are professionally done in the salon, but do not have the adverse affects of the UV exposure and you don’t have to worry about missing areas since you are having it applied for you.

The tanning industry has had to make some concessions in recent years. In most states, individuals must be at least sixteen before they can frequent a tanning salon with their parents permission. They are required to have warning signs posted in tanning rooms. However, with the cases of skin cancer on the rise and the number of people tanning on the rise, it is evident that not enough is being done to protect against a very serious cancer. Trust me, I know firsthand.

Indoor Tanning Contributes to Increased Incidence of Skin Cancer. (2006, January 13). Retrieved December 15, 2008 from indoor_tanning_contributes_to_increased_incidence_of_skin_cancer/

Indoor Tanning Fact Sheet. American Academy of Dermatology. Retrieved December 15, 2008 from fact_indoortanning.html

Watson, S. (2008, September 18). Palin's artificial sun shines on local race. McClatchy - Tribune Business News. Retrieved December 15, 2008, from ProQuest database. (Document ID: 1556820441).

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