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Tanning Salons and Skin Cancer

Posted Nov 04 2009 10:00pm

I have long been concerned about tanning salons and the possiblity of skin cancers. Having picked up two malignant melanomas in children and having had two good friends who developed these, I think people are unwise to expose their skins to excessive, harmful UV rays. Whether it is prolonged exposure at the beach or under the tanning lights at a salon, I think moderation is the best choice. Several friends who have had prolonged exposure to sun have had surgical removal of  cancers from their faces. These  have not resulted in the best cosmetic outcomes.

In these days of such emphasis on looking young and beautiful, I don't know why anyone would want to try to overcome the odds and expose themselves to excessive UV rays. Having spent most of my adult life working in hospitals and caring for patients in my office, I have found staying out of the sun has served me in good stead. Yes, as a child I spent summers swimming in our local college pool, but paid for this by having two small skin cancers removed.

A troubling article in this week's Time magazine notes that according to the World Health Organization "The risk of cutaneous melanoma is increased 75% when use of tanning devices starts before 30 years of age." The FDA has some guidelines about the use of tanning salons, but according to the article these are ignored by  many tanning salons. As a physician and parent, I will continue to discourage the use of tanning salons or excessive exposure to sunlight.  

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