Tanning remains popular despite risks


Junior accountancy major Alyssa Yackley does not consider herself an avid tanner, but she does try to add some color to her diet in the springtime.

“Right now I tan two to three times a week,” Yackley said. “But I don’t tan year round. [I tan] only before summer or for special occasions.”

Yackley is one of many NIU students who spend quality time in tanning salons in the area, despite a new study showing that there is a direct link between tanning beds and cancer.

Amanda Friedrichs, dermatologist at DeKalb Clinic, 217 Franklin St., said this discovery is not a surprise to the medical community.

“We know that ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a major cause of skin cancer as it damages the DNA in skin cells,” Friedrichs said. “Many tanning beds may actually emit a higher percentage of UVA rays than natural sunlight.”

Friedrichs added that patients are coming in more frequently with signs of the consequences of overtanning.

“We have patients as young as 19 and as old as 97 with skin cancers,” Friedrichs said. “Melanoma is the second most common cancer in adolescents and young adults 15-29 years old. With tanning bed use on the rise in the past decade, more and more young patients are being diagnosed with skin cancers.”

Teresa Lynch, owner of Dynamic Tanning, 3224 Sycamore Road, disagreed with the idea that bed tanning causes cancers and makes sure that her customers tan safely.

“I am adamant on safety,” Lynch said. “Customers need to wear eyewear and build up [their tan] gradually.”

Lynch also said bed tanning can be more beneficial than tanning outside.

“[You] want to tan in moderation and in a controlled environment,” Lynch said. “The last thing that a person wants when they tan is a burn.”

Although the new finding has not drastically changed the amount of business in tanning salons, Yackley said those who tan frequently may take notice.

“I think [the study] could have an impact on the people who tan excessively,” Yackley said. “I think that if you are careful and do not try to get much darker than you do from natural sunlight, you should be OK.”