Hillary Federico

Tanorexics live in constant fear that their color is fading. They recoil at the suggestion of sunblock and avoid SPF as if it is a disease.

Constantly basking in the rays of the sun, they are the ones who rotate their beach chairs with even the slightest movement of the light.

Tanorexics are obsessed with getting tan. In fact, they do their best to out-tan everyone in their surroundings. When the actual sun is not providing enough satisfactory color, these people fake-bake at tanning salons, utilize at-home tanning kits and even brush bronzer over faces and necks.

Actors and singers continue to fry in the face of skin cancer warnings and the depleting ozone layer. The only thing between them and the sun is commonly a smooth layer of baby oil.

In the predicament of health versus style, style always wins.

But what these tanners do not know is that sunlight has a profound effect on the skin. It can cause premature aging, skin cancer, sagging skin, wrinkles and age spots.

Exposure to ultraviolet light, UVA or UVB, from constant sunlight is responsible for about 90 percent of the symptoms of premature skin aging.

Additionally, several skin changes that were commonly believed to have been due to aging, including easily bruising, are actually a result of prolonged exposure to UV radiation.

With that said, a few irritating nags do not stop millions of Americans from contributing to this billion dollar industry.

Every year in the United States, over 25 million people go under the rays of a tanning bed nearly 300 times.

If a person is being exposed to UV radiation, they are being exposed to a known carcinogen intentionally.

Tanned images are promoted in magazines, fashion shows and television, consistently modeled by beautiful people. Fashion magazines write about how to get “the perfect tan” and consider tanning to be healthy and beautiful, but actually, many young people are being persuaded to perform severe damage to their skin. Women, in particular, are the industry’s leading consumers.

On March 29, 2005, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a report warning those younger than age 18 to stay away from tanning beds simply because they can raise the risk of skin cancer. The agency issued the advisory specifically because girls like to utilize the beds to get tan in time for summer.

However, people attempt to achieve this bronze look throughout the year. During the fall and winter seasons they are unable to revert back to being pale and continue to bake in tanning salons.

The overexposure to UVB waves is what burns the outer layer of the skin. UVA rays, which are longer waves, penetrate below the skin’s surface to give people that “healthy glow.” When tanning beds and sunlamps first became popular about 20 years ago, they were equipped to emit heavy doses of UVB rays. Currently, the modern tanning bed has been designed to reduce sunburns by giving off 95 percent UVA light and only 5 percent UVB.

So what does this mean to regular tanners? The answer is that tanning salons only sound good. You rarely leave the salon with a painful burn and you will still achieve that bronze glow in time for the cold weather.

But researchers say that the harsh UVA rays penetrate through the top layer of skin, the epidermis, into the dermis, the skin’s inner tissues. As a result, people who use tanning beds more than once a month are 55 percent more likely to develop malignant melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institute, more than one million people are diagnosed with skin cancer every year.

Furthermore, 40 to 50 percent of Americans who live to age 65 will experience some form of non-melanoma skin cancer, the most common type of skin cancer in the country. These statistics are startling for a cancer that can, for the most part, be prevented.