Once upon a time, smoking was awesome. No really. Joe Camel was cool. Big Tobacco companies marketed it as healthy! Actors and models would pose with a cigarette as a prop. And then little by little more information came out that it caused cancer, something that was preventable by not smoking. 50 years ago, in 1964, the surgeon general issued its first warning that smoking causes cancer.
On July 29th, 2014, the surgeon general – finally – made a very clear statement about UV – “Unit today, the surgeon general has never said, ‘UV radiation is bad for you; protect your skin,’”. This was stated by the acting Surgeon General Dr. Boris Lushniak who is also a dermatologist (Source).
Let me say how happy I am to see this. As a child, I always had porcelain skin, very white and was encouraged to “get some sun.” When I dealt with depression in college, I was told to go to the tanning booths, just for 5 to 10 mins and get some Vitamin D therapy. As I’ve gone through my 20’s, I’ve noticed more and more women see tanning as a beauty treatment, also using the term Vitamin D therapy, and I’ve always been concerned about the health consequences of tanning, as well as the idea that tan is beautiful.
Now I have a 7 year old step-daughter, with beautiful white skin and I worry about her skin, and that, up to now, has been exposed by media, etc that tanning is beautiful and healthy for the mind, body, and soul. With shows like Jersey Shore (which obviously my child does not watch but this is the culture and media that I’m speaking to) and everyone on TV either being airbrushed tan or truly tanned, she is growing up thinking this is beautiful. My son, who is 18 months, may also struggle with this since tan being beautiful is not something that is limited to women, but I feel with a statement such as this (Surgeon General Warnings will now be on sunscreen and there will be new limits going into place on tanning, etc) he will be growing up knowing that UV rays are not healthy.
But still what about Vitamin D therapy, or the info stating that Vitamin D deficient people can be more depressed (Seasonal Affective Disorder/Winter Depression) and have a harder time fighting back colds and diseases like cancer?
Previously, it was stated that to get Vitamin D, you needed to be exposed to 30 minutes of sunlight with no sunscreen, but with melanoma on the rise, and according to the American Cancer Society, has more cases diagnosed than breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancer cases combined. So based on this info and the Surgeon General’s statement, it’s time we really shifted our focus away from tanning (both outside and even more so in booths)
So how do we get Vitamin D? Well there are two amazing Super Foods with Vitamin D (Source):
As well as some Mushrooms that are treated with UV light will have increased Vitamin D
Other foods that have Vitamin D –
Milk or yogurt that is fortified with Vitamin D
Beef/Calf liver (gross)
I’m hoping that we will start treating tanning like we do cigarettes and other carcinogens. Yes, we all have the decision to make healthy decisions and what we put in our bodies, but keep in mind that we are role models for our children. If we do things, and they see those things, they are going to grow up idolizing us and following our behavior. It becomes a pattern that is hard to break. Melanoma is not always caught early, and is easily overlooked. It is also aggressive and invasive. Your health and body is the most important thing, as you only get 1 and it determines your life. Take care of it. Take care of your children’s minds and skin. Remember, this is preventable. Use sunscreen when you are out in the sun. Seek shade when at the park or beach. And be prepared to embrace change.