Johnson City

Study says tanning is good for women's health, local doctor disagrees

Study says tanning is good for women's health, local doctor disagrees

Sun tanning is a summer pastime that people are told to avoid but a new Swedish study says women should actually do it more often.

We talked to a local doctor to see if women should be listening to that advice here in the Tri-Cities.

The study found Swedish women who went into the sun more often had a lower mortality rate than those who avoided the sun.

It looked at about 29,500 women over a 20 year period and found women should not avoid sun exposure in countries, like Sweden, where the sun's intensity is low.

Assistant director of ETSU's Skin Cancer Prevention Lab, Dr. Katie Baker, told us this study does not apply here.

"We live in an area with higher UV intensity, especially between the months of April to October, and our UV index on average is much higher than Sweden," said Baker.

She told us women here would risk overexposure if they followed the study's advice.

"We get the amount of sunlight we need to naturally produce adequate levels of vitamin D by walking back and forth from our car to the grocery store, or to work, or to the gym," said Baker.

She told us anyone spending time outdoors should put on sunscreen with SPF15 or higher and reapply every two hours. Baker also suggests wearing long sleeves, long pants and a hat outdoors.

Baker reminded us that outdoor sun exposure isn't the only cause of skin cancer.

She said the number of cases of melanoma in women in their late twenties is going up because of tanning beds.

We went to an Abingdon tanning salon to see how seriously that risk is taken. There are warning signs right when you walk in the door at Electric Sun.

Owner Stevenson Hobbs told us the newer beds have fewer of the most intense UV rays.

"Tanning beds have come a long way in the past 10 years and are less harmful than they were in the past," said Hobbs.

Despite that, Hobbs agrees with Dr. Baker that over exposure can be harmful to your health.

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