The Benefits of Tanning

Essay by badkittie9University, Bachelor'sA+, February 2005

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There is no such thing as a safe suntan. This is what doctors and dermatologists from leading institutions all over the world have been claiming for years. Piles of research have linked the cause of skin cancer with exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Both the sun and tanning beds or sunlamps emit UV rays. According to Skin Health Information for Teens, there are three different types of skin cancer, and all caused, at least partially, by ultraviolet radiation. The first two types, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, are treatable and usually non-life threatening. The third and deadly type of skin cancer is melanoma (McNally 227-228). In 2003, approximately 3,400 Canadians were diagnosed with melanoma and approximately 840 died from it (Canadian Cancer Society). And with these cancer rates on the rise, some medical specialists everywhere are warning people to stay out of the sun whenever possible, to wear sunscreen when outdoors, and to never utilize indoor tanning salons.

But ultraviolet radiation lamps have been used for the treatment of many illnesses for nearly a century. The latest medical textbooks still advocate their effectiveness. Some doctors even prescribe regular indoor tanning as treatment for certain skin and bone diseases. Why? As stated in The Medical Advisor, ultraviolet radiation does have positive health effects, whether from the sun or from an artificial source. UV rays cause human skin to produce vitamin D, which is essential to some of the body's basic functions (Somerville 1035). Despite the warnings of rising skin cancer rates, some experts now believe that sunlight could help prevent more deaths and diseases than it causes.

New York Times Personal Health columnist Jane Brody recently wrote an article on the benefits of sunshine titled A Second Opinion on Sunshine. Her main interviewee was Dr. Michael Holick, a...