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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