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Skin Cancer, Anyone?

April 10, 2013

A health story currently making the rounds bears disturbing news: 27 % of melanoma survivors are foregoing sunscreen before heading out into the sunshine.

Even worse, 2 percent of melanoma survivors use a tanning bed.

tanning bed

Of course, everyone should avoid tanning beds and put on sunscreen before heading outdoors, specifically to avoid the form of cancer that these people have already suffered. Yet one would think that after contracting melanoma, the incentive to utilize proper skincare precautions would be much stronger than it is for people for whom cancer is just an abstract idea.

So why are people who have had melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, continuing to tan?

First, to report fairly, it appears that approximately 25% of melanoma survivors change up their skincare routine, always putting sunscreen on if they know they will be outside in the sun for more than an hour. By contrast, only 17% of Americans who have not contracted skin cancer always use sunscreen in this situation.

Make sure you're part of that 17% - protect your skin & wear sunscreen!

Make sure you’re part of that 17% – protect your skin & wear sunscreen!

Now, returning to our question, one of the reasons that melanoma survivors continue to tan is because it is a habit. Their bodies are used to receiving a certain amount of sunlight, and not receiving that amount of sunlight can result in the person feeling depressed. The sun does provide some benefits – it improves your mood, thus contributing to your mental health, and also provides vitamin D, which is necessary to absorb calcium.

Only a small amount of sunlight is necessary to receive these results, however, and your body will most likely absorb that amount of sunlight even while wearing sunscreen, so the health benefits are not a valid excuse for not wearing sunscreen.

Only a small amount of sunlight is necessary to receive these results, however, and your body will most likely absorb that amount of sunlight even while wearing sunscreen, so the health benefits are not a valid excuse for not wearing sunscreen.

Yet probably more importantly, a person who identifies herself as a tan person can look in the mirror and feel bad because she’s “washed-out.”

Sometimes, what you see in the mirror is a lie.

Sometimes, what you see in the mirror is a lie.

For some reason, our society associates “tan” with “healthy.” As is poignantly obvious from the beginning of this post, that is not the case – “tan” can actually result in “skin cancer” (which usually does not, but can, end in death*).

The truth is that you are the most beautiful you when you are your healthiest. If you have naturally pale skin, that is okay. Freckles are cute. Avoid unhealthy skincare habits by reminding yourself that you want to be healthy, and reminding yourself that society and media do not always promote the healthiest values and habits.

It is healthy to go outside, but when you go outside, put on sunscreen first. Protect yourself, promote your health, and develop healthy habits with respect to skincare.

Healthy is Beautiful

Healthy is Beautiful

Please share your skincare tips & habits in the comments below!

*More than 12,000 people die of skin cancer each year.

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