32% of Americans agree that a tan makes people look better and healthier

Young adults are likelier to believe sun protection and skin cancer prevention myths.

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According to a survey from the Orlando Health Cancer Institute, a third (32%) of Americans believe that a tan makes people look better and healthier. However, experts warn that this can lead to risky behavior regarding sun exposure, as it is a dangerous beauty standard.

Tanning is a visual manifestation of skin damage. UV rays cause irreversible damage to DNA in your skin. All tanning contributes to your odds of getting skin cancer. Hence, there is no such thing as a healthy tan.

Rajesh Nair, MD, an Orlando Health Cancer Institute oncology surgeon said, “But we’re fighting against a perceived positive image and health benefits of something that has an opposite reality, which is that suntanned skin represents an increased risk of a deadly disease.”

The survey also revealed that young adults are prone to believing myths and misinformation about sun protection, which could divert them from tried-and-true strategies for preventing skin cancer. Nearly a quarter (23%) of adults under 35 think drinking water and staying hydrated prevents sunburn, and one in seven (14%) think regular sunscreen use is worse for the skin than direct sun exposure.

There is no scientific evidence that drinking water offers any protection from the sun. On the other hand, sunscreen’s protective benefits far outweigh any known risks.

Nair said“But if you’re concerned about chemicals or ingredients in a sunscreen, mineral sunscreens like zinc oxide that offer a physical barrier to the sun are proven safe, as well as clothing with SPF protection.”

“With so many sources of information—and misinformation—these days, it’s difficult to decipher good advice from the bad. “

“We have hectic lives, and we’re trying to find information to guide us on healthy choices and decision-making to the best of our ability. However, the overwhelming number of people and organizations claiming to have the right answers makes it hard to know what to believe. Our fear is that people buy into a lot of really dangerous ideas that put them at added risk.”

Product marketing by social media influencers greatly impacts our beliefs. If you see a video or hear something from your friend, you’re like, ‘Oh, yes. I need to try that,’ and you believe it. Experts recommend using sunscreens with an SPF of 30 or higher and reapplying them every two hours, especially if you are sweating or are in the water.

To detect any skin cancer early on, routine tests for the disease with a dermatologist or primary care physician are essential.

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