Dangerous Fads: Tanners

Too Much Tanning?
"I've used tanning beds for over 20 years," Erin says. She shows off the one she owns. "I paid about $4,000 for it, and I get a lot of use out of this tanning bed. At your tanning salons, you cannot tan more than once a day. I'm freckled, fair-skinned and they would put me in it for four minutes. That wasn't long enough for me. I've gone into the tanning bed in the morning, and then I've come home and gone in in the evening. When it turns off, I turn it back on. So I have tanned a total of 45 minutes. That would equal about 24 hours in the sun."
 
Erin says she passed her addiction down to her child. "I've allowed my 14-year-old daughter, Rachel, to tan daily for the maximum amount of time. I do think Rachel looks better with a tan. The darker the better," she says.
 
[AD]Ashley, 23, is another self-proclamed tanaholic. "I'll go to the beach. I'll get there around noon and leave around 5:00, whenever the sun's going down. Then afterwards, I'll go straight to the tanning bed," she shares. "I've tanned so much, especially in the tanning bed, that I've become immune. My skin won't get browner. I've upped the minutes, so now I'm going longer. I just started using a new lotion. It burns you, and it hurts very much, but the results are getting better."
 
"Ashley's tanning is way out of control," says her mother, Sandra. "Ashley would prefer to be in a coffin than not to be tan at all."
 
"I won't even hold a bottle of sunscreen," Ashley jokes. "When I die, it will be of skin cancer, but I'll be looking good and looking tan, so I don't care."

When the videotape ends, Dr. Phil addresses Erin and Ashley. "Y'all are both intelligent women. You know what the impact is of exposure to the sun and in tanning booths," he admonishes.

 

He turns to Ashley. "Are you in denial about this?"

"No, I know it's bad for me," she says. "I feel better when I tan. I don't think about the bad."

Dr. Phil addresses Erin. "What do you say to yourself about this?" he asks.

"The darker the better," she says proudly.

[AD]"Why is that?" Dr. Phil asks. "What about that is better?"

"It makes you look more awake and thinner. You just look healthy," Erin replies.

"Do you think it ages you?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Yes," Erin answers.

"So you'd rather look old, and awake and thinner," Dr. Phil quips.

Dr. Phil introduces Dr. Millard Zisser, a dermatologist with a private practice at Cedars-Sinai Medical Towers. "What's going on here?" Dr. Phil asks.

"I think they are sort of mortgaging their future for temporary pleasure and satisfaction," Dr. Zisser replies. "There's nothing good about ultraviolet light. It's damaging to the skin. It has acute problems " sunburning and inflammation. Chronically, there's premature wrinkling and aging. There is skin cancer. The sun suppresses the immune system. The only positive function is the synthesis of vitamin D, which you don't need the sun to have. You can get that in a capsule form."

"What do you think about what Dr. Zisser is saying?" Dr. Phil asks Erin.

"I think about it, but then I just dismiss it, that it's not going to happen to me," she replies.

"Once you do the damage, you can't undo it. It's cumulative over time," Dr. Zisser warns.

Dr. Zisser explains the ABCs of melanoma.

Dr. Phil turns to Dr. Drew Ordon, co-host of The Doctors. "This can get really serious, right?" he asks. [AD]

"That's right, Dr. Phil. We don't just do facelifts," Dr. Ordon replies. "They have this idea in their minds that they have to be charcoal to be attractive. In fact, that's not attractive."

Dr. Phil points out that Dr. Ordon is considerably darker than Dr. Zisser, who sits next to him.

"I'm like you, Dr. Phil. When we're not here, we're out there playing golf and tennis. Fortunately, my skin doesn't burn. I don't leave the house without a 30 [SPF] on. If I'm out playing golf or tennis, it's 50. I've never been in a tanning booth."

"Now we have sunscreens that protect against ultraviolet A. That causes premature aging and wrinkling. It also causes some skin cancers, and it also inhibits the immune system," Dr. Zisser explains. "You need a sunscreen that is SPF 15 or better and has protection against ultraviolet A and B. You must apply it again after four hours of being out of doors."


"Can you tan with that?" Dr. Phil inquires.

"You don't want to tan. If you tan, you're getting ultraviolet light," Dr. Zisser responds.

Dr. Ordon displays a graphic reminder of sun damage. And Erin and Ashley find out the toll that tanning has taken on their skin.

 


[AD]"Have we said anything that impacts your thinking about this at all?" Dr. Phil asks Ashley.

She falters. "You have, but I know I'll still tan," she admits. "Not only do I think I look better, but I " I don't want to say I get a high from it " but I do feel better from being in the tanning bed."

"We know that it can have that effect. You just have to find other things that give you the same rush, but in a healthy way," Dr. Ordon says.