By kfreeland - August 5, 2014

Last Tuesday, the U.S. surgeon general made a statement that skin cancer is a major public health problem (one that, annually, is diagnosed more than breast, colon, lung, and prostate cancer… combined), and issued a call to action to prevent it, CNN reports.

The first time I traveled out of the country was when I went to Costa Rica when I was 14. I remember being extremely excited, and in the midst of my excitement, I decided that it would be a good idea to go to a tanning bed to “prepare” my skin for the intense Central American sun.

Being a vague mix of northern European ethnicities, my pink-tinged porcelain skin is always ill-fitted for such sunny adventures, but as long as I have my SPF 800*, I’m good to go. I ended up getting badly burned on my trip despite my warped version of preparation, and had a triangular tan line on my back for nearly a year afterwards**.  And besides, according to the CDC, “A base tan does little to protect you from future damage to your skin caused by UV exposure.” We can add that to my list of things I wish I knew when I was younger.

Unfortunately, I was not alone in my use of tanning beds, and the trend still continues today.

A few years ago, I saw a chilling YouTube video discussing the risks of using tanning beds and skin cancer in general. It has stuck with me to this day:


The incidence of skin cancer is increasing, but awareness can lead to prevention. You can start by checking out the CDC’s sun safety page for more information.

*This is an exaggeration.

**This is not an exaggeration.