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Tanning Bed Use in Teens and Young White Women and Incidence of Melanoma, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

The second half of the 20th century saw a significant rise in demand on beauty salons in the American market. Such boom can be viewed not only in the context of prosperity of the American society but also as an increasingly developing trend for personal beauty and elegance. Nowadays beauty salons provide numerous services in cosmetology and body care. One of the most popular services is tanning. Tanned brown skin has always made an appeal to the ethical perception of beauty and customers of beauty salons use tanning beds and booths with pleasure. Little do they know that the exposure to the light induced by fluorescent lamps used in tanning beds is unhealthy. Usage of tanning beds is considered as the major cause of skin cancer and melanoma. Therefore it was found important to study the problem. The goal of this paper is to give evidence that tanning bed use in teens and young white women can lead to increased risks of development of melanoma and warn against the usage of tanning beds. As the basis of the research two research articles were chosen: “Exposure to sunlamps, tanning beds, and melanoma risk” by Clough-Gorr and the team; “Tanning bed exposure increases the risk of malignant melanoma” by Ting, Schultz and the team with several other reliable articles examined. The theme of the paper was thoroughly studied, and the proper conclusions were made.

It is essential to give some information about melanoma. Melanoma is a form of skin cancer. It develops in a form of malignant tumor of melaconytes (cells that produce melanin – pigment that is responsible for skin color). It is to note that melaconytes are found not only in skin but also in the other parts of human body; therefore melanoma can develop in any part of the human body that produces melaconytes. Notwithstanding that is not as common as other skin cancers, it is much more virulent and constitutes the majority of deaths from skin cancer (about 75%). It is to add that “over the last 25 years, coetaneous melanoma has become an increasingly common cause of cancer morbidity and mortality in Caucasian populations worldwide” (Clough-Gorr, Titus-Ernstoff, Perry, Spencer, Ernstoff, 2007). North America is one of the regions with high rates of incidence of melanoma. The sickness rates of this decease have extremely increased in the last years. This grievous statistics made scientists and physicians examine the problem thoroughly.

At the present time the usage of tanning beds (more than 27% of Americans use tanning beds) is given much prominence by scientists and doctors. They claim that “teenage girls who used tanning beds in the 1990s are behind the sharp increase in melanoma in young women” and that “the evidence was presented that the rise in melanoma from this often prom-driven surge in tanning has shown up as increased cases in women aged 25-34 years” (Orrange, 2011). The evidence represented by the IARC that “tanning beds are carcinogenic to humans” arouse the controversy as to possible limitation, or even prohibition of tanning beds, especially by teenagers (A Review of Human Carcinogens – Part D:Radiation, 2009). On the contrary, the representatives of tanning industry assert that prohibition of tanning beds is illegal and that “parents should be able to decide whether their children can visit tanning beds and that restricting tanning may limit teens’ exposure to vitamin D, which has been associated with lower risk of some cancers” (Whitworth, 2006). Nevertheless “the IARC placed tanning beds in the highest risk category, alongside other Group I carcinogens including asbestos, cigarettes and arsenic” (Woo, Eide, 2010). It is understood that tanning might be dangerous thus the principle of work of tanning bed is linked with the emission of ultraviolet radiation of UVA, UVB and UVC types which in the case of overexposure can lead to melanoma and other types of skin cancer. It is notorious to note that natural sunlight is not as unhealthy as UVB type radiation artificially delivered by UV lamps. Thereat tanning bed patrons receive excessive doses of UV radiation, higher than from summer sun exposure. In a study conducted in North Carolina the next data was presented that “UV output in standard tanning facility beds was found to be much higher, with a mean of 192.1 W/m2 UVA and 0.35 W/m2 erythemally weighted UVB” (Woo, Eide, 2010). It is understood that more immense bombarding of skin cells with UV radiation leads to more significant damage to melaconytes and consequently enhance a chance of developing of melanoma.

It is well-known that carcinogenesis can be caused by UV irradiation DNA damage. For a long time UVB was considered to be the only carcinogenic part of solar spectrum. Recent evidence has shown that radiation in the UVA range can also cause significant DNA damage. It is stated that this damage is caused “via cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer formation and C→T mutations” (Woo, Eide, 2010). By normal conditions, a tumor-suppressor gene p53 is upregulated by exposure to UVB and UVA that leads to” increased DNA repair, cell cycle arrest and apoptosis of damaged keratinocytes” (Woo, Eide, 2010). Nonetheless, p53 is also susceptible to mutagenesis that can lead to further mutations and development of skin cancer and melanoma, especially by people with Type I and II skin structures – that is, people having fair or fairish skin, often with red or blond hair and freckles, – white Americans.

It is important to describe the process of tanning in order to give a profound analysis of the issue discussed. When DNA is being damaged by UV light, the tumor-suppressor gene p53 is activated in keratinocytes through the displacement of the negative regulators. When activated, p53 “induces transcription of a host of target genes, including the pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) gene and a group of proinflammatory cytokines” (Woo, Eide, 2010). POMC, being transcripted in sun-exposed keratinocytes, start the process of an increased release of alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH) which sends signals to melaconytes via the melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R). This gene/hormone reactions result in “increased melanogenesis, melanocytic differentiation, and transfer of melanosomes to keratinocytes” (Woo, Eide, 2010). This mechanism is responsible not only for tanning but also for production of β-endorphin, which is suggested to contribute to the addiction to tanning. It is to state that the absence of p53 leads to the absence of response to tanning. The malfunction of MC1R receptor is also linked with no response to tanning. The malfunction of MC1R and absence of p53 gene is a typical feature of people with red hair and freckles (Type I skin).

It has been stated above that the issue of indoor tanning arouse much controversy the last years. Although the representatives of tanning industry claim that tanning bed is the safest way to obtain a tan, many dermatologists, scientists and doctors are against that statement. In order to prove that tanning beds (precisely UV radiation produced by fluorescent lamps) are unhealthy, scientists conducted several studies on animals. They managed to provide evidence that melanoma and skin tumors can form under the influence of UV radiation used in tanning beds. Some studies were also conducted on human skin. It was found that the exposure to UV radiation induces:

A greater cumulative erythema response in the first week of treatment, epidermal hyperplasia and stratum corneum thickening, depletion of Langerhans cells, dermal inflammatory infiltrates, and deposition of lysozyme on elastin fibers” (Woo, Eide, 2010).

It is to claim (on the basis of findings that have already been conducted) that repeated exposure to UV radiation leads to the cumulative processes in skin cells.

However, the results of contemporary scientific research are contradictory. For example, Clough-Gorr and the team did not find the definite connection between tanning bed use and risks of melanoma (although the negative influence of fluorescent sunlamps was proved). She and the team made an attempt “to estimate the separate effects of sunlamp and tanning bed device use on melanoma risk” (Clough-Gorr, Titus-Ernstoff, Perry, Spencer, Ernstoff, 2007). It was a population-based case-control study where 423 cases of melanoma were examined and divided into three age groups (younger than 20, older than 20 and lifetime). The data was collected through 40-minute telephone interview where participants were asked “to report eye color, natural hair color, age, and the reaction of their skin to strong summer sun exposure”, about the periods of their active sunbathing, their profession and, if they use tanning beds to get a tan (Clough-Gorr, Titus-Ernstoff, Perry, Spencer, Ernstoff, 2007). If the participant has ever used tanning device, he was asked about the frequency and timing of its usage. They collected further data:

Overall, 21, 9% of participant reported ever using a tanning bed. The average age of first use was 33… 18, 6 % of cases began to use tanning beds before 20… there was no evidence that melanoma risk associated with either the number of episodes of tanning bed use, or the duration of use in years (Clough-Gorr, Titus-Ernstoff, Perry, Spencer, Ernstoff, 2007).

Nevertheless she and the team managed to corroborate the theory of negative influence of UVB (produced by fluorescent lamps) and UVA radiation on human cells (although it was stated that UVA is not so dangerous) but no hard evidence was found that there is a correlation between tanning bed use and melanoma tumor. Clough-Gorr and the team claimed that “We found no association between tanning bed use and the site of the melanoma tumor” (Clough-Gorr, Titus-Ernstoff, Perry, Spencer, Ernstoff, 2007).  It should be also added that they found no evidence of correlation between age, skin type and tanning device use – only 18, 6% melanoma cases started to use tanning devices before 20. The result of this research arouse much controversy as to the type of the tanning devices (with UVB or UVA lamps) and the intensity of the emission, the precision of interviewing the cases examined, the timing of natural sun exposure. The dependent association between tanning bed use and melanoma is also difficult to examine because of the long periods of time between exposure to the tanning bed and melanoma diagnosis – that is, it is impossible to be sure whether tanning bed or not was the reason of melanoma.

The second article analyzed was written by William Ting, Kara Schultz and the team. They also tried to find the correlation between the extent of tanning bed exposure and the risk of melanoma. In the course of the study 551 people were examined and 79 cases of melanoma were reported. The information about people examined was presented in the form of their age, race and education. It is to note that in this study only the cases of frequent tanning bed users were analyzed (487). The researcher also collected data about first tanning bed use, frequency of usage, time of exposure, season of use, what sunscreen and sun protecting clothes they use, what the intensity of the exposure to natural sunlight was, also with Fitzpatrick skin type, history of phototherapy and blistering sunburn. The data was collected through interviewing. They found that “the “ever-use” of tanning beds was found to be a significant risk factor for the development of melanoma” (Ting, Schultz, Cac, Peterson, Walling, 2007). It is to state that they proved the main goal of the research. They also collected enough data to state that “the risk of melanoma is greater in white women aged 45 years or younger” (Ting, Schultz, Cac, Peterson, Walling, 2007). They came to the conclusion that tanning bed sessions lasting longer than 20 minutes are likely to lead to malignant melanoma and that “this association was even stronger for white women aged 45 years or younger” (Ting, Schultz, Cac, Peterson, Walling, 2007). It is understood that this research concurs with the general results of the studies of this kind and clearly states that there is clear correlation between age, race, skin type, time of the tanning bed exposure and the risk of further melanoma development. Nevertheless it should be added that the research included only Midwestern patients and had a low response rate (about 35%). It is however to conclude that tanning bed exposure increases the risk of melanoma development, especially in white women (Skin type I and II) aged 45 or younger – that is, who started use the tanning devices in their teens or where they were under 30 years old.

To sum it up, the usage of tanning beds became increasingly popular in United States with about 27% of Americans visiting tanning salons regularly. Melanoma is a form of malignant tumor skin cancer that causes about 75% of deaths from skin cancer. Melanoma develops in melaconytes (cells producing melanin that is responsible for skin darkening). A number of people dying from melanoma have extremely increased in the last thirty years, especially in the last decade that is possible to be linked with popularity which indoor tanning gained in the 90s. Sociological studies have shown that young white women and teenagers are likely to obtain indoor tan. Numerous studies of tanning beds’ influence upon human skin present evidence that tanning beds are carcinogenic to humans and are likely to be the cause of skin cancer and melanoma. The UV radiation produced in tanning beds is more intense and harmful than sunlight. There was no evident link found between usage of tanning bed and production of vitamin D. UVB and UVA spectra produced by fluorescent lamps of tanning beds are carcinogenic. UVA spectrum of tanning beds is 10-15 times more intense than in natural sunlight that leads to increased DNA damage. A tumor-suppressor gene p53 is responsible for skin protection against UV radiation. The mutagenesis of p53 can lead to malfunction and development of melanoma. People with Type I and Type II skin are more susceptible to DNA skin damage, especially when young. White women 45 years old and younger are more susceptible to DNA damage caused by tanning beds. It is to claim that use of tanning beds by white young women can lead to further development of melanoma and other types of skin cancer. However, with the number of contradictory results obtained and assertion of the representatives of tanning industry, the issue remains quite contradictory, it is understood that overexposure to tanning bed devices is likely to lead to melanoma, that’s why it is important to examine the problem and popularize the results of its examination in order to reduce the melanoma sickness rate.

References:

A Review of Human Carcinogens—Part D:Radiation. (2009). The Lancet Oncology 10. WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer Monograph Working Group.

Clough-Gorr, K., Titus-Ernstoff, L., Perry, A., Spencer, S., Ernstoff, M. (2007). Exposure to sunlamps, tanning beds, and melanoma risk. Cancer Causes and Control. Volume 19, Number 7.

Orrange, S. (2011). Prom Tanning Causes Rise in Melanoma. Retrieved from http://www.dailystrength.org/health_blogs/dr-orrange/article/prom-tanning-causes-rise-in-melanoma

Ting, W., Schultz, K., Cac, N., Peterson, M., Walling, H. (2007). Tanning bed exposure increases the risk of malignant melanoma. International Journal of Dermatology. Volume 46, Issue 12.

Whitworth, A. (2006). Legislators Combat Melanoma, Restrict Teen Tanning. Oxford University Press.

Woo, D., Eide, M. (2010). Tanning beds, skin cancer, and vitamin D: an examination of the scientific evidence and public health implications. Willey Periodicals Inc.

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