Surgeon General Warning: Stop Tanning to Protect Your Skin

If you’re a frequent tanning bed user or just like to spend a lot of time in the sun, it may be time to break the habit. Health organizations and dermatologists have been issuing warnings about the dangers of UV exposure for years, but the number of skin cancer cases in the United States still continues to rise each year — now at 3.5 million cases of basal and squamos cell skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. The office of the U.S. Surgeon General has issued a report warning Americans to protect skin from UV damage.

Why UV Exposure is So Dangerous

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation will help you achieve that bronzed, sun-kissed look, but at a price. Frequent UV exposure damages the cells and also breaks down collagen and elastin — the compounds that give your skin that tight and toned look. This breakdown can cause premature wrinkles and sagging skin. Aside from aesthetic damage, UV exposure increases your risk of developing skin cancer.

The Skin Cancer Foundation reports that frequent indoor tanners increase their risk of early-onset basal cell carcinoma by 69 percent, and that a single indoor tanning session can increase your risk of developing melanoma by 20 percent. Those high-pressure tanning beds and frequent trips to the tanning salon can put you at a much higher risk for developing cancer and also cause significant, irreversible damage to your skin. If you develop large moles or malignant lesions, you may need to undergo skin cancer surgery to have them removed.

Protecting Your Skin from UV Damage

Steering clear of indoor tanning beds and sunlamps altogether will help prevent excessive UV exposure. Keep in mind that indoor tanning beds can deliver a much higher dose of UV rays than the sun, so even one or two sessions a week could cause significant damage deep within the skin. Here are some things you can do to protect your skin from UV damage:

  • Limit your time outdoors, especially during the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Wear protective clothing and sunscreen at all times
  • Break the tanning bed habit
  • Refrain from sunbathing, especially without sunscreen
  • Use waterproof sunscreen when you are outside for longer periods of time
  • Get an annual skin cancer screening

For more skin cancer prevention tips and advice about protecting your skin, schedule an appointment with Dr. Ortegon today.

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