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For a healthy glow, avoid the tan

May 10, 2010 | 11:57 am

Do you think people look healthier and more attractive with a tan? If so, you’re not alone, according to a survey released Monday by the American Academy of Dermatology.

Tanning However, you’d also be wrong.

The survey found that 72% of respondents find tanned skin more attractive than pale skin, while 66% said a tan provides a healthy glow. In addition, 60% were under the mistaken impression that sun exposure is good for one’s health.

Those attitudes may help explain why skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. So might these other common misconceptions about tanning:

  • 37% mistakenly believe that indoor tanning beds are safer than outdoor sun exposure
  • 40% aren’t aware that burns and tans during childhood are linked to skin cancer in adults
  • 52% think a base tan protects the skin from further sun exposure, even though it doesn’t
  • 65% don’t realize that all UV rays are harmful for skin

For more on the survey, check out this fact sheet on tanning. The Academy also has this useful resource to help people distinguish normal moles from early signs of skin cancer. Tips for conducting a skin cancer self-exam are available here.

-- Karen Kaplan

Photo: If you think this looks like a healthy activity, think again. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

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Comments (14)

Who paid for this nonsense Coppertone inc.

"The vitamin is D.. the skin makes it from ultraviolet rays. Sunscreen blocks its production, but dermatologists and health agencies have long preached that such lotions are needed to prevent skin cancer.
Now some scientists are questioning that advice.
The reason is that vitamin D increasingly seems important for preventing and even treating many types of cancer. In the last three months alone, four separate studies found it helped protect against lymphoma and cancers of the prostate, lung and, ironically, the skin. The strongest evidence is for colon cancer.
Many people aren't getting enough vitamin D. It's hard to do from food and fortified milk alone, and supplements are problematic.
So the thinking is this: Even if too much sun leads to skin cancer, which is rarely deadly, too little sun may be worse....
One is Dr. Edward Giovannucci, a Harvard University professor of medicine and nutrition who laid out his case in a keynote lecture at a recent American Association for Cancer Research meeting in Anaheim, Calif.
His research suggests that vitamin D might help prevent 30 deaths for each one caused by skin cancer.
"I would challenge anyone to find an area or nutrient or any factor that has such consistent anti-cancer benefits as vitamin D," Giovannucci told the cancer scientists. "The data are really quite remarkable."
The talk so impressed the American Cancer Society's chief epidemiologist, Dr. Michael Thun, that the society is reviewing its sun protection guidelines. "There is now intriguing evidence that vitamin D may have a role in the prevention as well as treatment of certain cancers," Thun said.
Even some dermatologists may be coming around. "I find the evidence to be mounting and increasingly compelling," said Dr. Allan Halpern, dermatology chief at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, who advises several cancer groups."

There is another side to the tanning debate that doesn't get much coverage: the high rates of vitamin D deficiency in this country, and in northern lattitudes in general. Recent research has implicated vitamin D deficiency in multiple forms of cancer, as well as heart disease. At the cellular level, vitamin D is critical for checking rampant cell division, which is a key part of the growth of any cancer.

Yes, you can take vitamin D supplements, but the body makes its own vitamin D, and it's certainly superior to geltabs. Getting 15 minutes of sun a day on your hands, arms, and face supplies all the vitamin D you need in a day. Sunscreen inhibits UV damage to your skin, but also STOPS vitamin D synthesis. The healthiest people I know work outdoors or spend a lot of time out in the sun and fresh air.

If you're sensible about it, sun exposure is a good thing. Summer sun is more dangerous than sun in spring and fall. Avoid the peak sun in the middle of the afternoon, from 11 am till 2pm. Use SPF 30 sunscreen if you plan on spending hours in the summer sun, and re-apply if you're sweating a lot or going in and out of water. But in the winter, spring, and fall, enjoy the sun on your skin.

all those years of running around in just cut-offs ... oops, now we know better to protect our children.

60% of the population aren't laboring under:

"... the mistaken impression that sun exposure is good for one’s health."

...rather, a disturbingly high percentage of dermatologists have gone too far in whipping up fear of ANY sun exposure. Not only is sunlight the `natural' way for keeping ones' internal clock properly set, it is an important factor in preventing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - the often-debilitating depression that is most prevalent during darker winter months. Sunlight also stimulates the human skin to produce Vitamin D - and large portions of the population are Vitamin-D some part due to the current over-reactive avoidance of sun exposure.

Sunlight - in carefully-monitored `doses' - IS "good for one's health."

This is nonsense that we don't need sun on our skin. We need Vitamin D. Irresponsible journalism.

any studies on Vitamin D deficiency and that pills don't substitute?

maybe your next post should be on the health dangers of the Vampire look.

From Web MD: >> If you shun the sun, suffer from milk allergies, or adhere to a strict vegetarian diet, you may be at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is produced by the body in response to sunlight. It is also occurs naturally in a few foods -- including fish, fish liver oils, and egg yolks -- and in fortified dairy and grain products.

Vitamin D is essential for strong bones because it helps the body use calcium from the diet. Traditionally, vitamin D deficiency has been associated with rickets, a disease in which the bone tissue doesn't properly mineralize, leading to soft bones and skeletal deformities. But increasingly, research is revealing the importance of vitamin D in protecting against a host of health problems.

Not only does Vit D help prevent cancer, etc., it also stimulates immune function. Cold and flu season may be in the winter, because that is when people's levels of Vitamin D dip. Sunshine is very important for health!

I would seriously question the facts in this article. A little sun every day is healthy!!

This is yet another example of the Nanny-State-Controlled-Media attempting to keep the country in a perpetual crisis of some sort and, as usual, not even getting their facts straight.

Is it really any wonder that newspapers are a dying business?

She said people were wrong if they thought tan skin looked more attractive and healthy.But the surey showed most people thought so!!! The question was not whether it was fact or not that the opposite was true!! Or did i miss something??

Do you think writing chastising articles makes you look more intelligent? If so you would be wrong.

1. Caucasians are more attractive when they are tan instead of pale white. This is an aesthetic; it has nothing to due with health.

2. Exposure for sunlight is a necessary catalyst for your body's production of Vitamin D, a necessary vitamin for life. Your body requires sunlight for this function and perhaps many others yet to be proven.

3. Darker skin does offer greater protection than light skin against sunburn. That's exactly why your body darkens in response to sun exposure.

4. UV exposure kills microorganisms including infectious bacteria and viruses: known causes of human disease

5. The exact mechanisms UV causes serious skin cancers such as melanoma, and therefore the best way to prevent them, are unknown

It is pretty well established that excessive amounts of UV exposure is a cause for skin cancer. It has not been proven that there is a direct correlation to UV exposure and skin cancer even at moderate levels. There is no solid evidence that moderate sun exposure that causes tanning causes melanoma. There are some studies that indicate that sunburns could increase the odds of melanoma occurring. In fact, some studies have evidence that people who constantly work outdoors have a lower incidence of melanoma. A tan, darker and more sunburn resistant skin, could possibly reduce the chances of melanoma as it reduces the risk of burns. Whether the UV exposure required to tan produces more of a risk to obtain serious cancers such as melanoma rather than prevent them is unknown. Based upon this, I could easily say a tan does prevent skin cancer, which would be just as unproven as the broad claims made in this article. If I were to be spreading this like it was the gospel, I would be just as ignorant. There is a lot of misunderstanding out there, probably because there is so much misinformation distributed. It seems ludicrous to mock it when not even getting the fact right. It could turn out that sunlight, like many other things for your body, is good for you at moderate levels.

I use SunSignals UV sensor stickers on my family. These stickers are US patented and monitor UV exposre by changing colors. When the sensor turns red it is time to reapply sunscreen. Real simple.

This article is thin, thin like filo dough. I wrote a response to it, but didn't find the article strong enuff to even rebut. But I'll say this; every THING needs sun.


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