Ah yes, the signs of summer.
Young children selling lemonade from makeshift tables on street corners, joggers, bikers and in-line skaters cruising along city streets and trails, young children playing T-ball and taking swimming lessons, and artificially tanned teenagers and adults flaunting their bronzed skin to the world in an effort to display their “healthy, sun-kissed glow.”
While I observe countless friends and acquaintances flocking to area tanning booths, I continue to religiously apply my 45 SPF sunblock and preach my well-founded belief that tanning booths and any deliberate sun baking, is a superficial, self-destructive invitation to skin cancer.
I simply cannot understand why anyone would knowingly subject their body to ultraviolet radiation when the facts are clear. Overexposure to the sun kills. With 500,000 new cases of skin cancer surfacing in America each year, obviously lighthearted afternoons at the beach, soaking the rays into baby-oiled skin is a thing of the past.
Today one in 128 Americans must deal with skin cancer, and by the year 2000, the probability is expected to soar to 1 in 90. By the time our tanning booth generation reaches middle age, the statistics are sure to be astounding.
Tanning booth beauties are even more suicidal than their beach bunny counterparts.
So-called “Fake and bake” booths lead directly to premature skin aging, skin and eye burns, allergic reactions, cataracts, reduced immunity and blood vessel damage. As these booths remain unregulated and unrestricted in most states, the levels of radiation released can fluctuate greatly. I know that tanning booth junkies would be reluctant to give up the opportunity to pay to be locked up in a carcinogenic capsule and bake away for a half hour, but I would encourage them to try and kick this potentially deadly habit.
One last lesson for all my steadfast opponents who try to trip up my lessons with their unfounded claim that tanning in a booth now will save their skin from the summer sun later. According to the National Cancer Institute, a natural tan contains only the equivalent of an SPF 4 protection, and any brown melanin pigment resulting from exposure to the sun’s UVA radiation (aka your beautiful tan) signals that your skin has been damaged.
This excuse to go to the booth stemming from innocent adolescent vanity can lead to death if melanoma - the deadliest form of skin cancer - develops later.
A word to the wise: Before frolicking into the warm rays of the sun this summer slather on sunscreen with an sun protection factor of 15 or higher a hour before you leave home.
You may not end up with that trendy tan you’ve wanted, but in the long run your skin and possibly your life will be saved.
MEMO: See opposing view written by Shelby Grabicki under the headline: Summer’s burning question
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