The Truth About Tanning

FOR DOWNLOAD MORE GALLERY Let me just say right off that I don't know what the truth is about tanning.

I don't think anybody does.

An article today by Dr. Arthur Caplan seems to be saying that if you go to a tanning booth, or to a beach, you are going to get skin cancer.
Half of all cancers in the United States are skin cancers. Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, accounts for about 60,000 cases and causes 11,000 deaths every year in the U.S. We spend nearly a billion dollars each year treating melanomas.

So who are you going to listen to — a bunch of folks in white coats with lots of degrees who make money sawing cancerous bits off sun worshippers — or the guy with a store full of coffins with light bulbs at a strip mall?
OK, that sound pretty bad. But according to the Center for Disease Control (.pdf), skin cancer does not even fall into the top 15 for leading causes of death. Between 2004-2005, 652,000 people died from heart disease - nearly sixty times as many as from skin cancer. Over 18,000 people died from assault. And the "billion dollars" spent on melanomas is the cost of a couple of days in the Iraq war.

In addition, some doctors are now recommending people to "soak up the sun" to prevent a vitamin D deficiency.
Just this week, a new study showed that people with a vitamin D deficiency are likely to die sooner than people whose blood contains higher amounts. Death rates from any cause, as well as from heart-related problems, varied greatly depending on vitamin D, it showed.
So the truth lies somewhere in between. Certainly there are people that are at greater risk of getting skin cancer, based upon pigmentation and heredity. And it also seems like doctors universally condemn tanning booths because of the extreme dosage of ultraviolet rays bombarding the body in such a short time.

The vitamin D study indicates that D deficiencies are actually causing mortality rates to increase for other diseases, such as of the heart, and other cancers. A little exposure to the sun, for many people, is natural and healthy for the body.

If you have any doubts, consult a doctor first, and take a look at your family history. And if you do decide to allow the sun to caress your skin, get a good sunblock. And have fun.

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