Do you intend on getting a healthy tan this summer? You may want to rethink your plans. Tan skin is the body’s reaction to sun damage, along with freckles, wrinkles and brown spots. So unless your tan comes from a bottle, it’s probably not healthy.
More than one million cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year, according to the American Cancer Society. And despite the countless public service announcements and media messages, the numbers continue to rise.
According to recent studies by both the American Academy of Dermatology and British Association of Dermatologists, people in their teens and early twenties are less likely than any other age group to use sun protection, despite the increasing risk among this demographic.
Many young people ignore the risk because they don’t see the detrimental effects of the sun right away. Skin cancer often does not show up immediately. “Most skin cancers take years of cumulative sun exposure to form and reflect sun-worshipping behaviors of years past,” says Tanya Futoryan, MD, medical director of the Westport Dermatology and Laser Center in Westport, Conn.
And it’s not just young people who suffer the negative effects of the sun. It’s only been over the last two decades that we’ve learned, as a society, about the dangers of the sun. Millions of women who spent their childhoods basking in the sun are suffering the consequences as well.
“Although we are better educated now on sun protection, it takes a long time to adapt sunscreen use and sun avoidance into our every day lives,” says Futoryan. “Every new generation has to be convinced of the dangers of sun damage.”
There are three major types of skin cancer. Bad sunburns, which include blistering, increase a person’s risk of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer. Long-term exposure to the sun increases the risk of all types of skin cancer, including the less serious types: basal-cell and squamous-cell carcinoma.