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Skin Deep : The Esana Beauty Blog

The Hidden Risks of the Year-Round Tan

Close-up of young women in solariumHow much would you risk for a glowing tan all year long? Some shocking statistics–indoor ultraviolet (UV) tanners have a 74 percent greater chance of developing melanoma than those who never tanned indoors and also face increased risk for both squamous and basal cell carcinomas. Even spray tanning can increase lung inflammation as well as the risk for lung, breast, and colon cancer. Here’s a brief summary of the dangers of both:

Tanning Beds and Sunlamps

As of March this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has opted to reclassify ultraviolet (UV) products—like tanning beds and sunlamps—to a higher risk category due to concerns about skin cancer. These devices will now carry a visible black-box warning stating that these products should not be used by anyone under 18. Nine states (not including Connecticut) actually ban the use of tanning beds for minors (about 2.3 million U.S. teens tan indoors each year).

Even marketing materials must now include additional warning statements such as “Persons repeatedly exposed to UV radiation should be regularly evaluated for skin cancer.” And before manufacturers can release a new UV product, the device will be required to undergo performance evaluation and design testing for FDA clearance.

Spray Tanning

All spray tanning products contain a chemical called Dihydroxyacetone, or DHA. During a spray tanning session, this chemical is easily inhaled, absorbed by the lungs, and carried into the blood stream. The residue that is collected in your lungs over repeated sessions can lead to inflammation, asthma, and even higher risk for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD. DHA in your blood stream can increase your risk for lung, breast, or colon cancers, according to recent studies.

Even if you wear nose clips, hold your breath during the spray, and seal the eyes and lips, the chemical can rub off on towels and bed sheets, which can prolong exposure to DHA.

The Healthy Glow

Most skin specialists agree that a true healthy glow begins with a balanced, active lifestyle that includes plenty of water, clean food, and exercise to get your heart pumping. With increased circulation, your tired skin cells are nourished and revitalized. And if you want a more intensive solution, consider facial treatments that can penetrate to deep layers of your skin to rejuvenate and bring back a youthful glow—without UV exposure or the dangers of inhaling DHA.

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