Threat of Wrinkles Makes Tanning Addicts Pale in Fear
Of course, those who habitually tan to look ‘good’ are concerned with their appearance, but for those who pick looks over health, threats to their appearance is what has many thinking twice before going under the light bulb.
“They’re not worried about skin cancer, but they are worried about getting wrinkled and being unattractive,” says Dr. June Robinson, a dermatology professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
According to the National Center Institute, melanoma rates among 15 to 39-year old Caucasian women rose 50 percent between 1980 and 2004. This alarming rise was enough for the World Health Organization to move indoor tanning beds to its highest cancer risk category, with arsenic and mustard gas. Now that’s scary.
25 to 40 percent of tween and teen girls still visit tanning salons, even though it skyrockets their risk of developing melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, by 75%. That’s even more scary.
If cancer isn’t a big enough threat to scare young girls away from the tanning salon, what will? Robinson and her team of researchers decided to find out.
The team produced a 25-page book dedicated to the effects of tanning- not on health, but on appearance. It explained how tanning may give you golden brown skin, but the ultraviolet rays destroy collagen in the skin, which gives it that youthful, soft, elastic appearance. They distributed the book to a group of 435 18-20 year old tan lovers.
Surprisingly, or maybe not, this is what got their attention.
Robinson said that the subjects tanned for a variety of reasons, like believing it would clear up their skin, because they feel more attractive tan, or to get a dose of rays to help with seasonal affective disorder, but no matter what their motivation, the threat of wrinkles and premature aging was enough for the tanners to drop their indoor tanning sessions by 35 percent.
It’s not really that surprising- to me, at least. I used to tan constantly in high school, but it wasn’t the health risks, or even the wrinkles, that made me stop. It was the fact that I was a horrible shade of unnatural orange in the dead of winter- in Seattle, no less, where there is rarely any sun. Superficial? Yes. But no matter what your motivation to kick the tanning habit, it’s a good move that could save your life.