As part of the Ontario Skin Cancer Prevention Act, youths under the age of 18 have been banned from using tanning beds as of this past Thursday, May 1st – perfectly timed, considering May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. The goal of the legislation is to protect young people, who are especially vulnerable to damage from UV radiation leading to skin cancer. According to the World Health Organization, the use of tanning beds by individuals under the age of 35 increases your chance of skin cancer by a whopping 75%. In fact, the WHO classifies tanning beds among its highest risk category, which includes tobacco and asbestos.
Aside from serious health effects, long term exposure to UV rays has been proven to cause photoaging by damaging the skin’s collagen and elastin fibres, resulting in premature wrinkles and fine lines. Other side effects of prolonged UV exposure are as follows:
- Both UVA and UVB cause damage to DNA, with UVB in the epidermis and UVA deeper in the dermis.
- This damage causes mutations in the p53 tumor suppressor gene, a gene responsible for repairing damaged DNA (if possible), or discarding cells that are damaged beyond repair.
- If p53 doesn’t function properly, these highly damaged cells continue to multiply.
- Around 50% of skin tumors have this mutated p53 gene in them.
- UVA penetrates deeper into the skin reaching the dermis where collagen, the structural scaffolding of the skin, is located. This causes the skin to sag in places leading to wrinkles.
- Both UVA and UVB cause the number of Langerhans cells, an important part of the immune system, to decrease, lowering immunity.
- UVA increases the number of inflammatory cells in the dermis.
Generally, the effects of UV exposure on the skin are permanent, however, thanks to scientific breakthroughs and advances in medical grade technology, they can be minimized and in some cases, completely reversed. Professional treatments like IPL Photo Rejuvenation and Laser Genesis are specifically designed to treat the most common age concerns that are so often a direct result of excessive tanning in our youth, such as deep wrinkles, fine lines, loss of skin elasticity, uneven tone and texture, redness/Rosacea, freckles and age spots, etc;
Taking simple precautions in your everyday routine, such as wearing sunscreen, can also have a hugely positive effect on the overall/longterm condition of your skin. Always choose an SPF formulated with zinc oxide, which is far more photostable than any other sun protecting ingredient.