I tan and never burn—why should I worry?
“A big skin cancer myth is that people who tan effortlessly without burning will not get skin cancer. That is absolutely false. We see cancer in patients of all skin types. Already having a dark tan, or dark skin that doesn’t appear to burn, is not enough to protect you,” says Monica L. Halem, MD, founder and medical director for the New York Dermatologic Surgery Cosmetic Laser Center. Tanning may look healthy, but it is always an indication of skin damage. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tanning is the skin’s response to injury. Skin cells signal that they have become damaged by producing melanin (additional skin pigment). So the next time you decide to go for that gorgeous goddess look, consider a faux-glow instead.
Tanning salons are a safe way to tan
Wrong. “One visit to an indoor tanning bed before age 35 can increase your risk of melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, by more than 50 percent,” says Joslyn M. Albright, MD, who specializes in surgical oncology, breast cancer, and melanoma at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Chicago. One study reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology followed 73,494 female nurses for 20 years and found that tanning bed use increased the risk for three types of skin cancer: malignant melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. As a result of this study and of others like it, the researchers concluded that policymakers should pass and enforce restrictions on the indoor tanning industry.