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Skin Cancer: My Personal Story

Back in the late 1990's and early 2000 I used tanning beds often. I would usually start going in early spring and continue straight through summer so I could maintain my tan. That added up to be about 5 months worth of tanning each year over the course of about 10 years. When I think back to that time I realize that with an average of 3 tanning sessions per week, I used a tanning bed over 600 times in that decade alone. It wasn't until years later that I learned tanning beds link to skin cancer and I want to share my story with you.

When I was "going tanning" there was incorrect information circulating in the news concerning the health benefits of using sunlamps. My understanding back then was a tanning bed was healthier than going out in the sun. I also was led to believe that it was far better for your skin to start out in a tanning bed in short sessions before sunning outside for hours. All of this information couldn't be farther from the truth. The fact is, any unprotected sun bathing is damaging to your skin, even more so in a tanning bed since they are 4-10 times stronger than the sun because of the intensity of UVA rays.

Research has found that people who used tanning beds when they were teenagers and in their 20s, have a 75% increase of getting the deadliest skin cancer known to man, melanoma. The tanning industry tends to hide the truth from us so that they can continue to be a profitable business while patients as young as 12 are getting diagnosed with skin cancer. Recently the FDA had finally become so concerned with the risks of tanning beds that they started requiring a warning label to be affixed on the outside of the bed itself, sort of like a pack of cigarettes.  I know it's hard to believe because we look so much healthier with color, but try to remember this, tanned skin from a tanning bed or the sun is the sign of damage.

A couple of years ago I noticed a spot on my forehead and every time I scratched it off, it would grow back. After a few months, I decided to go see my dermatologist and found out that it was a form of skin cancer called basil cell carcinoma. My doctor felt confident that it was the direct result from overexposure in tanning beds and sun. She explained that this skin cancer is the most common with over 700,000 people being diagnosed each year. It was a scary moment for me and all I could think about was how many times I had exposed my skin to sunlamps when I should have been protecting it. I had the cancer removed and that experience completely changed my attitude about tanning beds and sun exposure in any capacity.

On the other side of the equation, who wants to look pale all summer long? Just like everybody else, I want to have that sun kissed tanned skin, but how? Well, after much effort and research, I have found that you can still have beautiful brown skin all year long without the use of tanning beds or going out in the sun. Sunless tanning products have improved dramatically in the past few years and look absolutely amazing on every skin tone. There is a self-tanner that will give you a natural glow, without that orange look or foul odor, in 3-4 hours time.  I love the look of this at home spray tan and at the same time I can feel good about how healthy I am keeping my skin. I will never be able to go back in time and take away the damage of those 600 tanning sessions, but going forward I can maintain the skin that I have and still sport a beautiful tan all year round. By also using a daily sunscreen, Solar Defender SPF28, I plan to look 30 when I am 50!

I hope that my personal story has impacted you with the understanding of tanning beds link to skin cancer.  You never think that it's going to happen to you, but it can. There is no doubt that this is a life choice where the risk highly outweighs the benefit, so please save yourself from skin cancers and premature aging, protect your skin everyday from all damaging rays.

Written By: Cristina Pierce
Freelance Writer & Blogger 

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