A branch of the World Health Organization called International Agency for Research on Cancer recently reported that tanning beds caused cancer in humans.
I think it’s safe to say that we all knew tanning beds couldn’t exactly be good for you – when someone goes home for the weekend and comes back with orange skin, you know it isn’t due to a carrot overdose.
But now we know they cause cancer. Will that make a difference in how many people regularly hop into the futuristic capsules with the glowing lights?
Mary Leary, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke, said that people addicted to tanning shared several attributes.
“The most ‘tan-insatiable’ people were those who placed a high value on their appearance and had mild characteristics of obsessive-compulsive disorder,” she said in a press release. “These people continued to work on their tans even though they were already as dark as they could ever become.”
She found that when people were warned about the effect on their appearance (premature aging, scarring, leathery skin) they were more likely to change their attitude toward tanning than if they were educated about the health risks.
“The article saying that tanning might make you look bad was significantly more effective in changing attitudes toward tanning than the one warning of skin cancer. In other words, people are more willing to risk their health than their appearance by tanning,” she said.
I’ve never been in a tanning bed and am not really into tanning at all. I usually don’t mind having almost blindingly white skin. But if I were spending my time working up a real or fake tan, the risk of cancer would be enough to covert me from a tanning bed to a lotion.
Speaking of which, it’s time to remind my roomies to put on more sunscreen. They can enjoy their tans, and I can delight in the hope that we will all be racing around on our motor scooters when we’re 90 years-old, cancer-free.