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Get out of that tanning bed!

When summer comes along, many people just can’t resist lying out in the sun to develop a deep, golden tan. Now, the summer tan is no longer limited to the summertime. The rise of the tanning bed, coupled with the idealization of tanned bodies from shows like the Jersey Shore, has led people—mostly women—to tan year round. Tanning, whether out in the sun or in an indoor tanning bed, can have harmful consequences. Here are the top seven reasons for you to quit tanning once and for all.

1.      Tanning—especially in tanning beds—can actually be habit forming and at worst, addictive. Research has shown that tanning is often habit forming, and some people show behaviors similar to drug and alcohol addicts. In a study reported by ABC News back in April, researchers found that between 30 and 40 percent of individuals who used tanning beds demonstrated the psychiatric diagnostic indicators for addiction.  Some “tanorexics” just can’t stop tanning no matter what they try, while others miss social opportunities just to tan.

  1. Melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, is highly linked to exposure to UV rays. Both tanning beds and the sun produce UVA and UVB rays, and overexposure to UV rays can cause cancer. In particular, melanoma is one of the most common cancers affecting young people, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

3.      Ultraviolet rays also cause premature aging of the skin. Yes, that means wrinkles.  UV rays break down the collagen in your skin. Collagen keeps your face smooth and wrinkle-free. Do you really want to risk turning your skin into leather just to keep up a Snooki-esque tan?

4.      Proponents of tanning have argued that exposure to sunlight and tanning bed light generates Vitamin D, which may be able to reduce the risk of certain cancers.  However, a recent study showed that high levels of vitamin D weren’t necessarily linked to reduced risk in cancer.

5.      Overexposure to the sun can also damage the DNA in your skin, leading to increased risk of skin cancer.  Tanning bulbs also prevent your body from repairing the damaged DNA, another factor that may increase cancer risks.

6.      Anyways, soaking up the sun is not the only way to increase Vitamin D intake.  Alternative sources include fish, cheese, and fortified foods like milk, as well as vitamin D supplements. Limited exposure to the sun is a good thing, but baking in tanning beds and burning in sunlight is not a good way to obtain Vitamin D.

7.      Not only does tanning hurt your health, but it can also hurt your wallet.  If you choose to tan in a tanning salon, by default you must pay for services. Add in expensive tanning lotions meant to enhance your tan. By the time you factor in the 10% tanning tax that starts July 1st 2010, you’ve made a sizeable dent in your wallet.

The Situation with tanning does not look promising. “Fake-n-bake” tanning and sunbathing alike can be very harmful to your wallet, and most importantly, your health. If you’re not willing to cut down on your tanning habits, consider at least reducing your time under the heat lamps. If you prefer to brown outside, wear sunscreen to protect your skin. Follow Lindsay Lohan’s lead—this is probably the only time you’ll ever be told to listen to Lohan—and use sunless tanning products. Self-tanners and spray tans can give you that golden glow without harming your health.

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