16:50 03 August 2009
Sunbeds may give you a golden tan, but there is also a strong chance that they will give you skin cancer too.
The latest research has revealed that tanning beds could be just as dangerous to our health as smoking.
The evidence shows that sunbeds and tanning lamps pose a serious cancer risk, so much so that the World Health Organisation has upped their warning rating to the highest level, matching carcinogens alcohol, cigarettes and asbestos. Researhers concluded that sunbed users under 30-years-old are 75% more likely to develop skin cancer.
The damage from sunbeds is felt all over the body, and not only the outside.
Here is a guide to show how the intensity of tanning equipment affects our wellbeing from head to toe:
Immune system: Our immune systems can become suppressed by exposure from UV rays. A weakened immune system can then leave us susceptible to contracting infectious diseases.
Eyes: Exposure to UV rays can cause cataracts, pterygium (a white growth over the cornea) and inflammation of the eyes. Evidence has also suggested that sunbeds can add to the risk of ocular melanoma (a rare eye cancer).
Face: Not only is premature ageing highly likely, more worryingly, using sunbeds causes structural damage resulting in scarring and burning. In the long-term however, it could lead to photoaging a breakdown of collagen in the skin, leading to loss of elasticity and wrinkling.
Skin: The strong long-wave UVA rays present in sunbeds deeply penetrate the skin. This increases the risk of malignant melanoma, especially in those who are fair-skinned or have lots a moles.
Back and torso: Due to many days sunbathing, these areas are already considerably weakened, meaning the UV rays penetrate even more deeply, increasing the risk of skin cancer. Whats more, it is very difficult to see your own back, so it could be some time before a malignant melanoma is noticed.
Legs: Again the skin on the legs is weak due to continuous sun exposure, especially when it's nice weather. Your risk of developing skin cancer is therefore increased in this area.
Back of the knees: This is often a neglected area when it comes to sun tan lotion, it is also an area where we sweat considerably too so any lotion that is applied doesn't stay there for long. The intensity of the rays from a sunbed on this vulnerable skin leads to a heightened risk of skin cancer.
Top of feet: This is another area that we tend to overlook, meaning they are likely to have consistently been damaged by the sun in the past. This also means therefore, that they are susceptible to skin cancer from exposure to the harmful rays of a sunbed.
The facts about melanoma
If you have any concerns about a mole or skin irregularity, be sure to visit your doctor.
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