In the 1920's and 1930's tanning first became fashionable and was promoted as a healthy pursuit, becoming a status symbol for those who were able to afford to travel to warm climates to bask in the sun.
Since then, the size of the swimsuit has considerably shrunk and there has been an increase in the amount of body exposed to the sun.
The desire for the bronzed Aussie image has resulted in Australia becoming the skin cancer capital of the world. And the recognition of this problem has caused many people to resort to artificial methods of tanning including the use of solariums and cosmetic preparations (tanning agents) that change the colour of the skin. But just how safe are these tanning alternatives?
Fortunately in the last decade Australians have taken note of the frightening statistics that 'two out of three people in Australia will develop at least one skin cancer during their lifetime', with many now choosing to be content with their paler skin colours.
The dangers of using Solariums
Solariums and sun lamps offer people an artificial tanning process, which is claimed to be effective and harmless. However there is growing evidence to suggest that the ultraviolet radiation used in solariums and sunlamps may damage the skin and increase the risk of developing skin cancer.
While most solariums and sunlamps claim to only use UVA, there is substantial evidence to indicate that UVA actually contributes to the development of skin cancer.
It is important to note that whether a tan is brought on by UVA (solariums) alone or by UVB together (natural sunlight), the UV dose accumulated while achieving the tan adds to the lifetime total dose and to the risk of skin cancer.
People with skin that is easily susceptible to sunburn and does not tan are the most vulnerable, but those also at risk include people with olive-skin.
A tan DOES not give protection against the harmful effects of everyday levels of sunlight in Australia.
So whether you choose to fake it, be a beach babe or be content with your natural skin tone, always remember to protect your skin using the appropriate sun protection and follow the slip, slop, slap rules!
- Annemarie Failla