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The Misconceptions of Tanning

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The L.A. Times posted an article on the their site earlier this month that details the misconceptions of sun exposure. The article cited a survey conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology, showcasing what we believe to be true and/or false about the sun’s rays.

As the summer approaches and we seek the "healthy glow" only a day at the beach can provided, we might think twice about what we are thought to believe is attractive and healthy. Tainted by the stigma of a growing number of skin cancer sufferers, what we think to be true about what is good and bad for our skin may need to be reexamined entirely. The cited survey “found that 72 percent of respondents find tanned skin more attractive than pale skin, while 66 percent said a tan provides a healthy glow. In addition, 60 percent were under the mistaken impression that sun exposure is good for one’s health.”

Other misconceptions about tanning include:

• 37 percent mistakenly believe that indoor tanning beds are safer than outdoor sun exposure

• 40 percent aren’t aware that burns and tans during childhood are linked to skin cancer in adults

• 52 percent think a base tan protects the skin from further sun exposure, even though it doesn’t

• 65 percent don’t realize that all UV rays are harmful for skin

The survey presents a growing ignorance to the harmful effects of the sun on our skin, not only in adulthood but irreparable damage from childhood. A ranking published on the America Academy of Dermatology’s website detailed the smartest cities in the U.S. based on their knowledge or "sun smarts." Hartford, Conn. found its way to the number one spot followed by cities like Salt Lake City, Denver, and Tampa. Phoenix, Ariz. was number six on the list. The survey was based on questions testing each city’s “attitudes and behaviors toward preventing and detecting skin cancer.”

Skin cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer in the United States, so chances are it has or will affect someone we know. Educate yourself and the people around you on how to protect your skin. We must also check regularly for moles and other signs of sun damage that may become cancerous due to prolonged exposure to the sun. Protect and prevent against harmful UV rays this summer by making it a habit to apply sun block, shade yourself, and consciously avoid the sometimes unavoidable sun rays we meet on a daily basis.

Think twice about spending the day at the beach soaking in the sun; instead bring an umbrella, a sun hat, and a cover up. You and your skin will thank you years from now, keeping your youthful glow for many years to come.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.