Skin cancer for your health?

Ever get that feeling that you just read something really, well, so naive it's disturbing? There's an article (full text found here) in today's Northern Iowan (our campus newspaper) by Katie Hammitt, NI Features Writer, that talks about the health benefits of using tanning beds. That's right, the benefits. Did somebody skip too many biology classes? The article claims that tanning is a "healthy activity", saying that tanning strengthens the immune system and even fights cancer. You've got to be kidding me. A freshman female was quoted as saying "I know it can be bad for your skin, but you only live once. I figure by the time I get skin cancer, if I would, they'll have a cure, so I don't have to worry about that." You only live once? You only die once, too, and there are many opportunities for painful and expensive surgeries and other cancer-removing treatments. This article is part of a series dealing with "health and happiness" - what's next, an article talking about the benefits of anorexia and bulimia? How about the strength-giving magic of anabolic steroids?

Just to make sure I wasn't behind the times, I did a little checking and found a recent article by the Associated Press claiming that people who use tanning devices are 1.5 to 2.5 times more likely to get skin cancer than those who do not use the devices. If you start tanning before age 20, the study cited claims you are 3.6 times more likely to get skin cancer. The National Library of Medicine has many more facts and figures about skin cancer at their website. A quick search on Google will provide a whole lot more helpful information.

Aside from science, I realize that people are concerned about looking "white and pasty", assuming that looks "unhealthy". I think vanity is unhealthy, a life-long, unattractive illness that can be worse than any cancer. Maybe cancer is a cure for the conceited...

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