The Advantages & Disadvantages of Suntanning

Written by viktoria carrella
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The Advantages & Disadvantages of Suntanning
Suntanning comes with both advantages and disadvantages. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

When summer rolls around, many people are ready to hit the beach or their own backyard to lay out and get a suntan. Some people think a suntan makes them look healthier, while others feel it is a look of richness and power. A suntan gives a golden or even brown glow to the skin and comes with both advantages, such as vitamin D and treatment for various medical issues, along with several disadvantages, such as skin cancer and premature ageing.

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Vitamin D

The human body requires vitamin D to naturally absorb phosphorus (a mineral) and calcium. When a person is suntanning, the skin can make vitamin D from the sunlight. However, some people will not be able to gain any vitamin D from the sun. These groups include people who are obese, older, have kidney or liver disease, and those who have dark skin.

Light Therapy

Light therapy has shown to be an effective treatment for issues such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), according to the Cleveland Clinic. In combination with medication, spending time during the day in the sunlight can be helpful. For those who are not able to get outdoors during the day, opening up curtains and drapes to get the maximum amount of sunlight possible is also effective. In addition to SAD, according to Joseph Heitman, M.D., and James B. Duke, a professor at Duke University, UV light therapy also may be an effective treatment for various skin and nail fungal infections.

Skin Cancer

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), skin cancer is the number one most common cancer in the United States. While squamous-cell carcinomas and basal cell are the more commonly diagnosed, melanoma is the most dangerous. A very high number of melanoma cases are caused by too much UV light. UV light comes from sun lamps, tanning beds and the sun.

Premature Aging

CDC also states that if a person gets too much exposure to the sun, it can cause their skin to change in texture. Chronic sun exposure can cause the skin to become wrinkled, thick and leathery. This change in texture not only can cause skin cancer but also causes the skin to age prematurely. To protect the skin, wear suntan lotion and a wide-brim hat to shade the face, neck and chest area, which is most susceptible to sunburns.

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