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A Safe Tan? No Way, Experts Say
Date:7/9/2011

d he believes that lawmakers should undertake legislation to restrict access to tanning beds for anyone younger than 18. Laws also should be considered, he said, to tighten regulation of the devices, including how much UV light they emit and the length of exposure during a tanning session.

"One would prefer not to have to legislate, but when a risk has been identified and defined, it sometimes is necessary," he explained.

The risk, though, extends beyond tanning beds, and beyond the reach of legislation. Young and old alike need to protect themselves during outdoor pursuits, when they're exposed to the natural UV light of the sun.

Sun-safety tips from Lichtenfeld and Spencer include:

  • Use plenty of sunscreen. "People don't use enough," Lichtenfeld said. "Reapply it regularly, particularly if you are sweating or in the water, and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB."
  • Stay indoors during peak sun hours. That's usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. "If you could play your game of tennis at 9 a.m. versus noon, the sun's rays are less intense at that hour," Spencer said. "Enjoy your game of tennis earlier."
  • Wear protective clothing. Light, long-sleeved shirts and wide-brimmed hats will shade the sun. "Not a baseball hat," Lichtenfeld said. "They leave the back of the neck and the ears still exposed."
  • Wear sunglasses. They protect the eyes from UV light damage.

In other words, they stress, enjoy yourself outside -- but be smart about it.

"I'm all for outdoors and sports and enjoying life," Spencer said. "I'm not telling anyone to hide in a cave. But I would say take common-sense protective measures."

More information

The Nemours Foundation offers information for teens on the risks of indoor tanning.

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