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Why is tanning bad?

  1. Mar 17, 2015 #1
    Hi everyone.
    so I work in the tanning industry,
    i have read and seen countless sun scare campaigns like the big burn (alberta health care psa), the "surgeon generals" report comparing uv exposure to smoking...the bad rap is endless.
    Problem is , its the exact opposite of what ive learned working here and doing my own research.
    I dont want to drink the proverbial kool aid so i do as much pro/con reading as i can. Im not a doctor so alot of the cancer stuff is hard for me to follow, or maybe i just know way more about vitamin d, but i can not seem to reconcile this stay out of the sun message , with what ive learned about biology, hormones, evolution, melanomas etc.

    I guess im kind of wondering what some educated people WITHOUT AN AGENDA have to say about the great tanning debate? or not even tanning, but uv exposure. i read once "if you dont need a flash light you need sunscreen". ..???
    it makes sense to me, as a person living on the planet earth which revolves around the sun , that one be tolerant to it?
    How important is vit d? and the fact it is absorbed thru the skin and synthesized by the liver and kidney to produce a hormone .... these are important functions no? and doesnt sun exposure activate the reward center in our brain? that makes it necissary no?

    i was recently at a convention where it was mentioned that a rigor study ( sorry dont know if thats its name or the process) of all the scientific papers on the subject, will be peer reviewed and assigned a grade as to weather it is junk science or factual. it will take 5 yrs.

    In the meantime, your thoughts PF? I really feel like im missing something BIG to disagree with medical proffessionals on this .
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 17, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 17, 2015 #2


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    What we definitely know is that UV exposure contributes to the formation of skin cancers, as sunbeds expose their users to high amounts of UV light their use has been shown to lead to increased risk in skin cancer development (though there are some studies that found no significant difference). This meta-analysis might be of interest two you but you can find plenty more by going to pubmed.com and searching for papers on sunbeds and skin cancer.

    So it's pretty clear that using a sunbed increases your risk of cancer, as I understand it the open question is the fact that vitamin D deficiency is a problem in some nations and the question is whether or not using sunbeds as a treatment for vitamin D outweighs the risk of cancer. The medical profession doesn't have any sort of agenda here and in some countries is following the sensible route of advising against sunbeds (in varying degrees) on the basis of the information we have so far. As for the more drastic advice of sunscreen that doesn't seem like a problem for me, it's relatively easy for people in many countries to get a healthy amount of sun just from their day to day life. However it's also relatively easy to get burned and increase the risk of cancer. I'm not aware of any study that has shown sunscreen use has led to an increase in vitamin D deficiency and if one were to come out it would need to be examined as a cost-benefit analysis of risk of cancer and outcome versus that of vitamin D.
  4. Mar 17, 2015 #3
    Vitamin D is an essential nutrient. It is produced in the skin by UVB radiation of which tanning booths emit 6-8%. I have read that 5-30 min exposure twice a week may provide the minimum amount we need. Vit D primarily regulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorus and take part in the formation of bone tissue. It has be identified as having many help benefits including reducing heart attacks and strokes, helping asthma , hypertension arthritis ..... However there is not denying that with the benefit o sun exposure come a risk. With the recent (within the last 40 years ) advent of "sun worshiping" the rate of skin cancers has increased substantially. Previously skin cancers where found mainly in outside worker, farmers,fisherman, sailors and such. If you looked at photo of people in the early twentieth century through the 50's you will note the paleness of their skin. Now such paleness is much less common. Even with sun screens which were not universally available earlier ( except for zinc oxide which people tended to avoid because of vanity) the cancer case have increased.

    So tanning booth can be of value but I don't see a significant need for them given that about all you need of sun exposure on average ( to arms, leg and face or back is 15 min a day. And you get Vit D in your diet too so what is point except for cosmetic reasons and even then after several weeks of limited sun exposure one usually gets ride of that winter pallor. Also Vit. D is stored in the liver so you even don't need regular schedule of sun exposure.

    I don't know what tanning cost per session but taking a few supplements a week is surely much cheaper. As for the look well one balance the benefit vs the risk,
    My wife just had two basal cell Ca removed from her face for about $1200. A friend of mine ( a sailor) sees a dermatologist yearly for the harvesting of his. These are usually not life threatening unless you are stupid enough to ignore the lesions which can get pretty ugly. The excision of these cancers on the face can be disfiguring also and in some cases much more expensive. So the tanning industry is not really needed and just contributes to the attitude that sun exposure is basically safe.
  5. Mar 17, 2015 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    People need very little exposure to direct sun, more than the few minutes shown below puts you at risk of skin cancer.

  6. Mar 17, 2015 #5
  7. Mar 17, 2015 #6
    thank you! i have some reading to do
  8. Mar 17, 2015 #7
    It has been pointed out that the production of vitamin D is a necessary process inside your body and it is, but the reason why tanning is so bad has a lot to do with the brown pigment that is created due to the exposure of UV radiation. This brown pigment is called melanin and it is created by your skin cells as a protection from the radiation from the sun, or more recently by tanning beds. Like everything in biology it has much to do with balance, to keep everything homeostatic. The pigment is activated when UVB goes through the skin and the melanin controls the passage of how much UVB is penetrated through the body to produce vitamin D. There are many articles that explain the production of melanin in the skin, they can get quite technical and could be hard to follow, but here are a couple you can read if you wish to.

    http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Anthony_Norman/publication/13659600_Sunlight_season_skin_pigmentation_vitamin_D_and_25-hydroxyvitamin_D_integral_components_of_the_vitamin_D_endocrine_system/links/02e7e53987c2912212000000.pdf [Broken]

    Very essentially, overproduction of melanin means overexposure to UVB radiation, hence why tanning is bad.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  9. Mar 18, 2015 #8
    ryan, all i meant by no agenda is, all the anti sun reading ive done comes from derms and cancer advocates. all the pro sun material ive read comes from sources involved with the tanning industry, like the vit d society for example. obvious agendas on both sides. I really appriciate PF and its members. the ideas, science and opinions expressed on this site holds alot more weight than most of the "stuff" ive read.
  10. Mar 18, 2015 #9
    silver rose, thank you for those links. i actually had no clue of the different types of melanin, so i learned something....and extended my vocabulary , all the words i had to look up! HA! tip of the cap to all who follow such jargon without a dictionary :)
  11. Mar 18, 2015 #10
    People native from near the Equator line have a darker skin in order to be tolerant to the sun, yes. But people with light skin like Europeans and East Asians didn't evolve in warm sunny climates, so they didn't need to maintain a sun-resistant skin. Europe for example, was much colder in Antiquity than it is now, and went through an Ice Age. Lighter skin in these climates was actually an evolutionary advantage because that helped producing more vitamin D.
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