CLEVELAND – While many of us miss the warmth of the sun’s rays during colder months, research has shown that indoor tanning is not a safe alternative.
Despite known dangers, a recent study shows that as many as one out of every five young women are actually addicted to indoor tanning.
Researchers surveyed 389 women between the ages of 18 and 30 about their indoor tanning habits and their beliefs about how tanning makes them feel.
They identified more than 22 percent of those surveyed as having a psychological dependence on indoor tanning.
Cleveland Clinic’s Amy Kassouf, M.D., did not take part in the study, but said indoor tanning can be addictive.
“Our skin does release hormones that make us feel better when it’s been radiated with the sun or with ultraviolet light, so it can be addictive, but that doesn’t make it any better for us,” she said. “It’s still that ultraviolet light that’s changing those cells, potentially into something cancerous.”
Dr. Kassouf said many times people will turn to indoor tanning in an attempt to give themselves a base tan before taking a trip to a warmer climate during the winter months.
She says this is particularly dangerous, because when a person suddenly goes from very little ultraviolet exposure to intense ultraviolet light, it puts them at a higher risk for melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Likewise, Dr. Kassouf said that attempting to get a tan for the purpose of a protective barrier is not enough – we always need a layer of sunscreen for protection.
“Once you get that tan, it does help protect you a little bit, but you have to get so much damage to get that tan that it’s just not worth it in the end,” she said. “And the little bit of color that you get before you go on vacation, is not enough to actually protect you.”
For those who want some color, Dr. Kassouf said the safest way to go is to use a spray tan or a self-tanning cream.