Indoor Tanning: The Skin Cancer Risk You Don't Know About
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Women in Denial
Consider Randee Braham, 29. She works out consistently, eats well, doesn't smoke -- and then tans weekly at a salon down the street from her gym. "I realize the dangers, but I choose to look the other way," says the Brooklyn resident. "Tanning shows off my hard work at the gym."
Braham is not alone in her willingness to risk damaging her body. Cari Goodrich, 26, from Fremont, California, is also a health-conscious gym-goer -- she's even a vegetarian. But she visits the tanning salon up to four times a week in the warmer months. "I tell myself that having a mild tan for three-quarters of the year is better than the massive burn I'd get if I spent one day outside -- though I know that's not true," Goodrich says. She started tanning six years ago while working at the front desk of her health club, which offered the service.
With all the evidence against indoor tanning, why do it? "Many women in their 20s and 30s who exercise regularly think they're so far removed from having health problems that they're not concerned about the long-term ramifications," says Arielle Kauvar, MD, a clinical associate professor of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine. Plus, 61 percent of women believe a tan makes them look more attractive, finds an American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) survey. "The irony is women go to the gym to look good, but tanning eventually destroys some of that hard work," says dermatologist Sandra Read, MD, a spokesperson for the AAD. (UV exposure is the primary culprit behind wrinkles, age spots, and leathery skin.)
"The rates of melanoma -- the deadliest form of skin cancer -- are increasing much faster in women than in men, thanks in part to the fact that women are more likely to use tanning beds," says Dr. Read.
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