Conventional wisdom (and that horrific sun exposure truck driver meme) has long held that you need to stay out of the sun or use a high SPF to keep your skin healthy and avoid jacking up your skin cancer risk. But a surprisingly large number of people either ignore the advice, or remain convinced that it’s not true. Two new studies are making it harder and harder to deny, though: Too much sun really is terrible for your skin.
If you’re contemplating a winter tanning package to protect yourself from SAD (or just look like Snooki): Please, please think again. A new study links indoor tanning beds to 170,000 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancers yearly in the U.S….And that’s in addition to all the melanoma that doctors believe is caused by indoor tanning. They found that indoor tanners are 67% more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 29% more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma than those who never use tanning beds. Those are not good odds.
Another study says that, in addition to the known skin cancer risks, sun exposure also causes a general weakening of the skin. Researchers exposed outer layers of skin taken from a cadaver to UVB light–the type of light that outer layers of skin absorb–for the equivalent of 12, 24, or 60 days of Florida sunlight. They tested the skin samples to see how easily it tore, cracked, or crumbled after said exposure. The answer? Easy, compared with skin that hadn’t received the same sun exposure. Reinhold Dauskardt, the lead study author, told NPR:
UV radiation really is a double whammy. On one hand you’re making skin weaker and easier to break, and on the other hand you’re actually increasing the stresses in the skin so there’s more stress available to cause it to break.
Photo: Flickr user elise.y