A large part of maintaining excellent health is staying away from excessive carcinogens. Smoking, drinking and tanning, among many others, can all cause cancer. The World Health Organization recently classified indoor tanning as a class 1 carcinogen, placing it in the same ranks as tobacco. Some professionals argue for the occasional use of sun-therapy for the treatment of depression and dermatologic conditions. Alas, my purpose today does not include debating the safety of UV rays or the effectiveness of sun therapy - I’ll save that for another time.
The indoor tanning habits of more than 200 female students were studied at East Tennessee State University. The results were published by The Archives of Dermatology and brought to my attention, courtesy of The New York Times. Nearly 40 percent of the students went tanning for the first time with their mom. These girls were much more likely to become habitual tanners later in life. Girls who first went tanning with friends started, on average, at 16 years old. The other girls who went with their mom for the first time started much earlier, at about 14 years old. Dermatologists are concerned that indoor tanning at any age, but especially so young, greatly increases the person’s risk for skin cancer.
To me it seems that the study completely contradicts recent research which implies that children’s eating habits appear to be influenced very little by their parents. If you ask me, everything we do affects our children and we shouldn’t encourage them to do anything that we deem irresponsible or damaging to our own bodies. Our job is to educate them but in order to do that, we must first educate ourselves. UV light can be extremely dangerous and mothers should know about all the possible risks before encouraging their daughters to go tanning. Some research even suggests that tanning is addictive, which raises a whole new level of concern about over-usage and abuse of a natural and beautiful thing: sunlight.
Like all pleasures in life, too much sun can be very harmful. If you have daughters, it may be wise to avoid taking them to the tanning salon with you, lest they develop a dangerous habit that becomes difficult for them to control.
January 10th, 2011