Archive for Thursday, June 21, 2001

Sun lovers beware! Skin cancer a very real danger

June 21, 2001

When Cristal Barnes ran a Florida marathon in January she knew her skin, accustomed to the Kansas winter, wasn't ready to handle the semi-tropical sun.

"You can't put sun screen on once every two hours," she said.

Barnes, a sales manager at Sunflower Fitness, 1402-E Church St., said although she didn't usually use tanning beds, she took advantage of them before heading south. Although she said it wasn't scientifically proven, avid tanners know that a base tan from tanning beds, like those at Sunflower Fitness, can minimize or prevent sunburn in the great outdoors. Tanning kept her in better shape than her fellow runners.

"A lot of other people blistered and peeled," she said.

Some think tanning doesn't pose as many dangers as the sun, but both have their own set of problems.

In Eudora general practitioner Kenneth Holladay's opinion, neither sun nor tanning beds are particularly safe.

Although he is not a dermatologist, Holladay said, he knew some physicians attribute skin cancer to tanning beds and sun exposure.

Skin cancer comes in three forms, he said. Melanoma, the most serious and deadly, produces black spots. Squamous cell can spread, but it isn't as serious. Basal cell, usually seen in older patients, is relatively harmless.

Although older people get skin cancer more frequently, younger people aren't immune, Holladay said.

"Some years ago we had a pastor (with cancer) here in his mid-40s," he said. "It's possible to get it very early. Not usual, but possible."

Children's first exposure to intense sun during the summer can lead to serious burns, he said.

"Every year you see some of these kids get out with the first exposure around lakes and water," he said. "Sun rings off the water double your exposure."

Holladay said people with fair skin and red or blond hair need to be especially careful. Using sunscreen is essential, too, but as long as it's at least SPF (sun protection factor) 15. Lower SPF sunscreens need to be reapplied every hour or so.

"Those stronger ones are like glue," he said.

See Cancer, Page 5A

For many tanners, the philosophy behind tanning beds are that 20 minutes of intense exposure is better than the four or more hours of sun exposure required to achieve the same darkness. Taking less time also means greater convenience.

"You can minimize the use of sun while still getting the benefits," she said.

Precautions should be taken in the booth as well as by the pool.

Even if tanners are using a tanning accelerator, which causes a darker tan in less time, they should keep the lotion on tough-to-tan places like arms and legs, not on sensitive areas like the face and stomach that tan quickly, Barnes said.

Tanners should also wear sunscreen on their face, as well as wearing eye protection, a requirement of the Kansas State Board of Cosmetology. The rules also require tanners to be more than 18 years old or have parental permission.

"Younger kids often times aren't in tune with how long they should be in (the beds)," Barnes said.

Barnes recommended first-time tanners make just one appointment to start out with and see how their skin reacts. If you can't tan in the sun, she said, you won't tan in a bed. The recommended schedule is to tan only once a week.

Regardless of how sun-lovers decide to darken, the safest tan comes in a bottle, Holladay said.

"I tell people, 'You want to get a tan? Go buy it and rub it on,'" he said.s a darker tan in less time, they should keep the lotion on tough-to-tan places like arms and legs, not on sensitive areas like the face and stomach than tan quickly, Barnes said.

Tanners should also wear sunscreen on their face, as well as wearing eye protection, a requirement of the Kansas State Board of Cosmetology. The rules also require tanners to be more than 18 years old or have parental permission.

"Younger kids often times aren't in tune with how long they should be in," Barnes said.

Barnes recommended first-time tanners make just one appointment to start out with and see how their skin reacts. If you can't tan in the sun, she said, you won't tan in a bed. The recommended schedule is to tan only once a week.

Regardless of how sun-lovers decide to darken, the safest tan comes in a bottle.

"I tell people, 'You want to get a tan? Go buy it and rub it on,'" he said.

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