Melanoma Awareness, Skin Cancer

The Health Risks of Tanning for Young Women

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Team Molemap Creator
Posted 02/03/18

Many young Caucasian women believe that tanned skin is beautiful, but this standard of beauty can be deadly.

The connection between ultraviolet (UV) radiation and skin cancer clearly shows that no amount of tanning is safe. This is particularly true for people with light skin. Two out of three people will develop skin cancer at some point because of tanning practices. These deadly beauty standards are the primary reason why tanning beds have been banned in Australia.


Overview: The Currency for a Sun-Kissed Tan

Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, and its incidence rate is rising rapidly. A 2012 study by the Mayo Clinic shows that the rate of melanoma among young adults has increased by a factor of six from 1970 and 2009.

This increase is greatest in women between the ages of 18 and 39, who experienced an eight-fold increase in melanoma.

In comparison, the increase for men in this age range was only four-fold.

This alarming gender-specific finding shows increases in skin cancer among young women are primarily attributed to pressures on women to have a sun-kissed tan, according to Beauty Redefined.

There is a disparity of skin cancer between young women and men. Today, the prevalence for skin cancer is rising twice as fast among women.

This signifies greater underlying issues that stretch far beyond a mere lack of information about tanning.

In fact, many Australian women are strongly convinced that a deadly tan is worth any risk. This is because our sun-worshiping culture perpetuates the misconception that anyone without a tan is pale or pasty white.


Health Risks Linked to Tanning

Skin cancer is usually the direct result of UV exposure, with the most common source being sunlight. The most common forms of skin cancer are cancers of the basal and squamous cells, which tend to occur in areas that are exposed to the sun.

Observational studies have found a strong correlation between basal and squamous cell cancers and many markers for sun exposure. This include signs of sun damage such as actinic keratosis and solar elastosis.

Actinic keratosis is a patch of rough skin that can be precancerous. On the other hand, solar elastosis is dry, wrinkled skin due to sun exposure.

Melanoma is a less common form of skin cancer but it is much more dangerous. It is significantly connected with sun exposure.

Today, other contributing factors such as genetics are also being identified.

Other behavioural indicators have found links to intermittent sun exposure such as sunbathing and outdoor water sports as well as strong correlations to those with history of sunburns.


Ban on Tanning Beds

The State Government of Australia started banning commercial tanning services in 2015, according to the Adelaide Advertiser. These laws initially went into effect in Australian Capital Territory (ACT), New South Wales, Tasmania, and Victoria, with Western Australia enacting the ban in 2016. The Northern Territory doesn't require such a ban since it doesn't have any tanning bed operators.

Violators are now subject to a maximum fine of $44,000 although some commercial operators received offers of compensation before the laws went into effect.

The private use of tanning beds is still legal in Australia, resulting in a growing black market for tanning services. Many solarium owners have started operating businesses illegally from private homes since the ban on commercial use.

The demand for tanning services is still so high. Many online sites are littered with classified ads from people offering money to use privately owned tanning beds.

This legislation was quickly tested in 2015 when Jake Byron Martin-Herde of Salisbury Downs became the first person charged with offering commercial tanning services from his home.

He allegedly offered these services through social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

The Environment Protection Agency is prosecuting the case, alleging that Martin-Herde accepted payment from customers who used his tanning beds.


How Dermatologists Use Mole Maps to Help Detect Skin Cancer

A mole map is a medical record of the images and locations of skin blemishes, including moles, lesions, and dark spots.

Dermatologists primarily use it to establish a baseline for comparison with later images to identify visual changes that could indicate cancer. You can also use mole maps to diagnose cancerous growths.

Anyone at high risk for skin cancer should get a full-body mole map to proactively manage their melanoma risk.

Risk factors include a large number of moles, especially those that change in size and colour. A family history of melanoma is also an indication that someone is at high risk for melanomas, typically for people with fair skin and light-coloured eyes.

Additional risk factors include severe sunburns early in life, use of tanning beds, and frequent time spent outdoors.


Conclusion

Many studies clearly show that any amount of tanning increases your risk of skin cancer. The widespread practice of women tanning is one of the most significant reasons for the dramatic increase in skin cancer over the last 40 years.

In addition to not using tanning beds, you can reduce your risk of skin cancer by avoiding direct exposure to the sun during the late morning and early afternoon.

Other safety measures include applying liberal amounts of a broad-spectrum sunscreen and wearing protective clothing when outdoors.

For all types if skin cancer, early detection improves the treatment outcome. If you have a history of UV exposure, regular skin checks or self-examinations can greatly assist in the early detection of any developing skin cancer leading to early intervention and the best chance of a cure.

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