Michigan reveals the 'Burning Truth' behind tanning

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It's no secret that that an overexposure to UV rays can cause skin cancer. But the ongoing problem is many Michiganders disregard this fact and still go out to get their summer glow.

The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is joining the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to promote a new campaign, called the "Burning Truth," which urges people to protect themselves from the dangers of tanning and exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays.

"There is a misconception that indoor tanning is somehow safe or safer than exposure to sunlight, but the truth is that tanning bed related injuries send thousands of people to the hospital each year," said Dr. Matthew Davis, chief medical executive with the MDCH.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. and rates continue to climb. That is one reason why teen girls and young women need to be especially careful, as it is the second most common cancer in women between 20 and 29 years of age. However, the most serious concern for anyone exposed to UV rays is the risk of causing the deadliest skin cancer, melanoma.

"Tanning beds pose immediate risk and have long-term effects on your skin and overall health," says Davis. People who tan indoors damage their skin which can lead to wrinkles, warts, rashes and dark spots, let alone cancer.

The CDC's Burning Truth initiative encourages people to keep their skin healthy by protecting themselves from UV rays, whether sun or tanning beds, and learning about the myths associated with any form of tanning, including:

A base tan is not a safe tan.There is a common misconception that a tan acts as the body's natural protection against sunburn. The truth is that a tan is the body's response to injury from UV rays, showing that damage has been done. A "base tan" only provides a sun protection factor (SPF) of about three or less, which does little to protect your skin.

Tanned skin is not healthy skin. Some people believe the tanning bed gives them a "healthy glow." The truth is that whether tanning or burning, you are exposing yourself to harmful UV rays that damage your skin, and every time you tan, you increase your risk of melanoma. The truly healthy glow is your natural skin color.\

Controlled tanning is not safe tanning. People may have heard that indoor tanning is the safer way to tan because you can control your level of exposure to UV rays. When in reality indoor tanning exposes you to intense UV rays, increasing your risk of melanoma.

In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently came out with new requirements for sunlamp products that reinforce the risks of UV ray damage, especially to minors. These requirements include reclassifying sunlamp products and UV lamps as moderate-risk, up from low-risk, and other safety labeling regarding minors under the age of 18 and skin cancer screenings.

Avoiding all UV rays, including both indoor tanning and outdoor sunlight are the best ways to reduce your chance of getting skin cancer. For more information about the truth of tanning, visit www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/burningtruth. For more information about the FDA's recent sunlamp requirement changes, visit http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm399222.htm.

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