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Survey Says - 98% of Millennial Women Are Aware of the Dangers of Tanning yet Still Do It, Why?

by kelly / July, 13 2016 01:30

Why is it that we sometimes enjoy things that are bad for us? According to a new survey conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) - 98% of women ages 18-34 understand that they are at risk of skin cancer when they tan - yet they still soak in the sun and use tanning beds.

Furthermore, 71% of these women know that there is no such thing as a healthy tan, and 66% know that getting a base tan is not a healthy way to protect themselves from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Yet once again they still tan.

Ok, even though these stats make me sad (not too surprising since I run a sun care company) - I've definitely fallen prey to some unhealthy habits myself. I've certainly over-eaten my fair share of cookies and ice cream all in one sitting!

Why We Should Avoid Tanning

But tanning is one thing I haven't done and the more I've learned, the more I avoid it. According to board-certified dermatologist Elizabeth S. Martin, MD, FAAD, chair of the AAD Council on Communications:

"Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is the second most common cancer in young women, and we believe this may be due in part to their tanning habits. It is alarming that young women are continuing to tan even though they're aware of the danger...Exposure to UV radiation, whether it's from the sun or an indoor tanning device, is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer. Women need to take their knowledge and turn it into action by protecting themselves from the sun and staying out of tanning beds."

Why We Tan Anyway

So what gives? Why are people doing it? It comes down to basic human desires - to "look good" and for immediate satisfaction. Given my cookie obsession, I can certainly understand falling prey to unhealthy habits.

For example Yahoo Beauty spoke with Kasey Lynn Morris, a Ph.D. in social psychology, she spent time researching sun tanning in the face of skin-cancer threats. Her belief is:

"Identity and self-esteem concerns are a very important motivation in health behaviors...But for women especially, appearance is a prime source of self-esteem, so there's that competing motivation of being healthy but also having that 'healthy glow'"

Dr. Martin also told Yahoo Beauty:

"Unfortunately, I think some women (and men) continue to tan because they see the immediate results of the tan but do not consciously recognize the risk of skin cancer they will face in the future. Young people often see skin cancer as a disease of older people"

I completely understand this mentality. Now that I'm in my late 30s I think about my skin in ways I never did ten years ago and wish I had started using sunscreen at an earlier age. With melanoma the second most common cancer in women 15-29, the science agrees - skin cancer is a problem for young folks too.

Additionally, Dr. Martin said:

"Many young women still use indoor tanning beds, unfortunately, and using indoor tanning devices before age 35 can increase your risk of melanoma by 59 percent, with the risk increasing with each use."

How to Look Younger - Don't Tan

That's definitely a sobering stat but at the same time it's totally avoidable if you don't use a tanning bed. Finally Dr. Martin has the best response for any young person that wants to tan and I couldn't agree more!

"if they choose not to tan and choose to protect their skin, they will look better than everyone else at their class reunions! Many times each day, I say, ‘You will thank me when you are 40. I promise.'”

So let's all make a pact to not do things that are not good for us and to be sun smart. Yes I'll stop eating as many sweets. To our health, living longer and looking great as we age!

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