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Despite an intense sun shining nearly every day, year round, I find it absolutely amazing and puzzling that so many Arizonans frequent tanning beds. It doesn’t take very much to get a tan or burn here – and it need not be 110 degrees either. You may think that you look healthy, attractive and alluring with a tan now but the ultimate price that you will pay is not cheap.

Why should you be concerned about the use of tanning beds?

There are two major reasons:

1.) increased risk for several skin cancers including malignant melanoma
2.) premature aging of the skin

Exposure to the deleterious effects of the ultraviolet rays needed to obtain a tan has been shown by numerous studies to increase the risk for skin cancers including the potentially lethal malignant melanoma. In fact, indoor tanning before the age of 35 has been associated with a 75% increased risk for the development of malignant melanoma.

The individuals who use indoor tanning beds the most are white women between the ages of 18 and 25. Their use far exceeds that of white males of the same age range. The extent of their use is quite substantial: 57.7% of them had used indoor tanning ten or more times over the past 12 months. This directly translates into a melanoma rate that is discernibly higher in white women than in white men (with other variables factored out).

Secondly, the increased UVA and UVB exposure results in greater damage to all layers of the skin resulting in premature aging. This manifests itself by pigmentation irregularities, rough skin, wrinkles, thickened, tougher and more leathery feeling and appearing skin. I have seen these findings in many girls in their twenties. With continued tanning and unprotected and prolonged outdoor exposure to the sun, by the time that they are in their late thirties, they may look 10 to 20 years older.

Not a desirable outcome!

If you want to stay looking younger longer and want to minimize your risk of developing skin cancer, do not use tanning beds and protect your skin when you are out in the sun.

For more information about skin care, skin cancers or sunscreens, you can contact my office at 480-451-3000. We do offer a variety of skin care products and sunscreens.

Steven H. Turkeltaub, M.D. P.C.
Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona

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