Benefits and Risks of Tanning
Sunlight and indoor tanning have become increasingly popular among adolescents and young adults. Almost everyone is familiar with the health risks, but are there any benefits of tanning? Excessive exposure can speed up skin aging and cause different skin cancers. But limited exposure can boost vitamin D levels and improve your mental health. Let’s weight the pros and cons.
Most people tan in order to improve their appearance. But, if done properly, there are health benefits to a few minutes of UV exposure. Opening people’s eyes to the mental health crisis has brought about the fact that tanning can lift your mood. Especially during the colder seasons, such as winter, people reported feeling more upbeat after a bit of sun exposure. Sunlight contains UVB, which helps the skin produce vitamin D. According to a National Institutes of Health study, lower levels of this vitamin can cause autoimmune diseases and certain cancer types. It only takes a short amount of time to boost levels, too much sun exposure will have a negative effect. Along with tanning, one should be practicing the proper diet to maintain all vitamin levels. Between improving mental health and boosting vitamin D levels, it’s no wonder the Indoor Tanning Association claims, “catching some rays may lengthen your life.” Always check with your doctor to ensure you are getting the proper amount of nutrients in your diet. Consult a dermatologist when spending great lengths of time in the sun, or before considering indoor or sunless tanning.
Wait, what is UV Light?
Ultraviolet light is the dangerous component of sunlight. UVA, UVB, and UVC are the three categories of rays, with UVC being the most harmful. Luckily, the ozone layer along with other components of the atmosphere filter this out before it reaches us. On the other hand, nearly all UVA light reaches Earth’s surface. When the energy from UV radiation is absorbed by DNA, it can cause reactions leading to genetic mutations. However, the vitamin D we get from exposure to UV radiation is actually a good thing. Critical to maintaining bone density by increasing calcium absorption in the gut. It is important to note that sunlight exposure can also improve cancer outcomes, the prognosis is better in summer and fall than in winter months. Furthermore, UV light helps to control blood pressure levels as well.
Regular tanners are normally fair-skinned individuals, which usually means they burn faster than naturally tan or dark skin tones. UV radiation promotes many types of cancers, the most serious being melanoma. A history of sunburns increases risk for skin cancer, indoor tanning booths can increase this, especially before the age of 35. Tanning also accelerates skin aging if done in excess and without proper safety measures. When planning that beach vacation, or hitting the tanning beds in the winter, consult your doctor about what sunscreens are best for your skin type, as well as what clothing to wear to avoid too much sun exposure.
Since tanning is mainly achieved by overexposure to UV, it is not suggested to expose skin to the sun simply to get a better glow. To boost mental health and vitamin D some sun/UV is acceptable, but sunless products are a better alternative for that sun-kissed look. Be mindful when playing outdoor sports, visiting the beach, or working outside, that you practice sun safety and value your skin’s health first and foremost.
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