Saturday, January 8, 2011

SANITY VS. VANITY

Are you crazy about being tan? If you are, you're not alone. Women, especially under the age of 35 and even men are very captivated by the bronze glow that laying in a tanning bed brings!  Over the past 20 years tanning beds have become ever more popular, casting ultraviolet light on a person's body in as little as 10-minute increments and provide a bronze glow - the quintessential Western image of beauty.  However, there has been a debate going on between tanning professionals and concerned researchers, citizens and parents about the danger of tanning booths.  Many scientists are now saying that tanning booths may be even more harmful than direct exposure to sunlight, a point which is strongly contested by the tanning professionals!  They say that indoor UV light is a better option because it limits sun exposure and helps the body protect against too much sun by building up a melanin layer at the top of the skin.  The melanin fliters out the UVA and UVB rays. 

Regardless of the rhetoric, if I knew that I was at a higher risk of melanoma because I had a certain gene mutation,CDKN2A, of which 67 percent of all melanomas result from its presence, I think I'd avoid tanning beds AND sun exposure, even if it meant no bronzed glow for me!  That is what the advocates of genetic testing for children and adolescents are saying - that kids would make wiser choices if they knew for a fact what their genetics said about it!  The down side would be that screening at such a young age might compromise their freedom of choice and maybe bring on worries and fears about their increased risk of getting cancer.  It can also be an expensive procedure and is not always covered by insurance! 

For Maryann Gerber, the choice is a no-brainer.  She began using tanning beds at age 20.  For 4 years, she went almost weekly. She noticed that she had a mole on her cheek and fortunately the same vanity that led her to the booths, led her to a plastic surgeon to have the mole removed.  She got a call a day later,informing her that she had melanoma.  10 years later, many scars on her face and back and multiple mole removals have changed her philosophy about wanting to be tan. 
Maryann immediately after surgery
She now speaks around the state of Utah, urging youth to always wear sunblock and get regular check-ups to catch any indications of melanoma early enough to treat it.  When she has children of her own, she definitely plans to use all the precautions with them, as well as genetic testing so that they will be fully armed with knowledge for prevention.


Maryann in the healing stages


She has been through too much to see it again in someone she loves...


Maryann 10 years after surgery
This was taken from several articles in The Deseret News, and is not a sponsored post.









16 comments:

Toystory said...

I am a sun avoider - I have very light colored skin, and burn rather than tan. I avoid sun (and tanning) at all costs. When we went to Jamaica, I had... yes SPF 90 for my face and SPF 55 for my body, and after 7 days in the sun and pool came home with just one red mark near my elbow where the suntan lotion missed. Otherwise I was as white as I was when I left.

Crystal said...

OMGoodness that is so scary to me. I tanned all the time through high school and college! That scares the crap out of me. I am an avid sunscreen user for me and my children. But hubby swears off sunscreen...he gets burned and burned and burned.

Those pics make me want to go get my kiddos checked from top to bottom!!

Kelly said...

Very interesting story. As much as it scares me to read it, it is TRUE. I did spend a bit of time in the sun in my younger years, and I tanned a few times, but working withpeople in the medical profession, and seeing first hand what this can do to ones skin, has changed my opinion about being in the sun, and protecting yourself, face, back neck, arms, your whole body needs protection. I like your blog alot. Good job!!

manthas24 said...

Great post - thanks for putting it up so I can share it with others

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kinnairdkath said...

OMGOODNESS,this is the deal breaker 4 me and your title is well suitede.every year I tell myself I will not tan for summer and I end up going anyway,NOMORE!thx again
katherinekinnaird@yahoo.com

Melissa G. said...

OH wow, that is scary. Those are some huge scars she has now.

Mehnaz Kapadia said...

OMG! i dint know Tanning had so many side effects! Anyway, i have never done anything like this and i never will! I hope more people get to know anout this and stop it!

Thanks!

mehnaz(dot)kapadia(at)gmail(dot)com

TheyCallMeErica said...

This is EXTREMELY scary and sad to hear. I hate how she had to pay the price. :( I honestly do agree with loving bronzed skin, but I absolutely NEVER use the tanning bed. Now I know I made the right decision. Thank you for this post! :)

ericakramolis at yahoo dot com

Glogirl said...

What a great article! I think that tanning beds are just as dangerous as being out in the sun and the same precautions need to be taken. Unfortunately some people are more concerned with their looks and it's not until something happens like with the young woman in the story that we realize the danger of tanning. It's great that she is spreading the word about skin cancer to others in her age range as they may be more receptive to listening to her than a doctor.

Barbarawr said...

Thank you for this post. My son doesn't see any reason to use sunscreen, no matter how many hours he's outside. I'm going to show him these pictures and hopefully shake him up a little!

pridelandmama said...

Wow. I am not the best at putting sunscreen on my kids, because they do not burn easily, and am even worse at putting it on myself. After this story I am goin to try to be much more vigilant. I am also going to spread the word about tanning beds.

pridelandmama said...

Wow. I am not the best at putting sunscreen on my kids, because they do not burn easily, and am even worse at putting it on myself. After this story I am goin to try to be much more vigilant. I am also going to spread the word about tanning beds.

Jennifer R. said...

I have never been one to tan or want to. I am fair complected and once as a child got very sunburned. It was so unpleasant and uncomfortable I have avoided it ever since.Thank Goodness!

heartnsoulcooking said...

I remember growing up and thinking that getting a tan was GREAT!!! Each suumer putting baby oil on and getting a tan, the darker the better! DUMB!!! right. Now sunscreen is my best friend year round. Thanks for the GREAT! post and sharing!
heartnsoulcooking[at]gmail[dot]com

Zoe Kyklos said...

Wow, this was sort of a scary article. But I've also read concerning things about sunscreen: http://www.naturalnews.com/032815_sunscreen_chemicals.html

Thanks for sharing.