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The use of tanning beds is big business, but young users should swear off the USA’s Ultra Scary Artifice.
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) says about 28 million people endure high-powered tanning lamp scorching annually. Having summer-colored skin year round exposes the zapped persons to high levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation and an increased cancer risk — so local, state and federal authorities are finally starting to limit access.
About 2.3 million of the 28 million faux-tanners in the US are teenagers, but young peoples’ growing and changing bodies are more vulnerable to the damaging effects of UV rays than are their elders. Consequently, California and Vermont prohibit minors from using the indoor tanning machines. New York and New Jersey ban their use by people under 17, and the cities of Chicago and Springfield, Illinois forbid minors access to the devices.
FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told the press last May, “Using indoor tanning beds can damage your skin and increase your risk of developing skin cancer.” The FDA says that the UV machines can also cause eye damage, immune suppression, premature aging and allergic reactions. Goggles are a must if you decide to risk your future for a tan.
Scientist Sharon Miller, the FDAs international expert on UV radiation and tanning, says agency’s website, “Although some people think that a tan gives them a ‘healthy’ glow, any tan is a sign of skin damage.” Miller notes, “Recognizing exposure to the rays as an ‘insult,’ the skin acts in self-defense by producing more melanin, a pigment that darkens the skin. Over time, this damage will lead to prematurely aged skin and, in some cases, skin cancer.”
From phones to reactors, all sorts of radiation — ionizing, UV, and electromagnetic — bombards the young and the old, causing cancer in our high-tech, overdeveloped urbanity. Ionizing radiation from radioactive materials smashes apart our DNA but exposure is encouraged by doctors who push X-rays, and CT and PET scans. And it’s permitted to be dumped into the environment via airborne and waterborne releases from reactors, nuclear weapons plants, and medical and research facilities. More comes from wild fires, irradiation machines, scrap metal recycling sites and accidental leaks at reactors and their waste fuel pools. Electromagnetic radiation from cell phones and towers, transmission lines, appliances, and Wi-Fi hubs, etc., all add to the cancer epidemic.
Don’t increase your chances of becoming an unhappy statistic just for the sake of a tan — and warn your friends.
John LaForge works for Nukewatch, an environmental watchdog group in Wisconsin, and edits its Quarterly newsletter.