You probably have heard about getting a “base” tan or getting a bit of a tan to prevent you from getting sunburn later. Is there such a thing as a healthy tan?
According to the American Skin Association, there is no such thing as a healthy tan. “Tanned skin will forever contain cells whose genetic structures have been permanently damaged by the sun.”
This DNA damage to the skin cells can lead to skin cancer.
Dr. Francesca Fusco, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City adds in the New York Times, that regardless of the source of the UV light, e.g., tanning beds or actual sunshine, there is no protection from getting a “base” tan.
In addition, self-tanning solutions do not give you any type of protection against harmful UV radiation rays.
There are two types of UV rays. UVA rays are longer, and penetrate more deeply into the skin, affecting the collagen and elastin that support the skin’s structure.
Damage to these cells can lead to wrinkles, sagging of the skin, and dilation of small capillaries, causing redness and spider veins to form. UVA damage can also contribute to skin cancer.
UVB rays are shorter. They can directly damage the genetic material in the skin’s cells and can affect the immune system so that the skin is less able to repair itself.
UVB rays cause melanocytes to produce melanin as an attempt at protection from the sun, which cause freckling and brown age spots to occur. UVB rays can lead to skin cancer — specifically melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer — as well as non-melanoma skin cancers.
Indoor tanning has become a popular activity due to encouragement from the indoor tanning industry. There is a lot of discussion on both sides of the indoor tanning debate about whether getting a tan from a tanning bed is harmful or not.
The evidence points to harm from indoor tanning, as discussed in a Medscape article (4) :
The International Agency for Research on Cancer reviewed 19 studies about artificial tanning. Seven studies focused on melanoma in relation to the age that a person began indoor tanning.