I’m sure that everyone reading this has, at least once in their life, visited the Beach during the Summer. During your visit to the Beach you will apply some Sun Cream, swim in the Ocean, have an Ice-cream etc. Finally as you are heading home you might have noticed that you have tanned a small amount, or a large amount if your aim was to tan. I hope that at some point you have wondered why that happens, why we tan and that is what this post is about to tell you what actually a tan is and what the terrible truth about tanning actually is.
I would like you to cast your mind back a couple thousand of years, before the Age of Sun Cream, when Stone Age Man is wandering around on Earth. It is Summer and the Sun is beating down on the Earth like a big metaphorical hammer. Those good at general knowledge will know that the Sun radiates all three types of UV light UVA, UVB and UVC. The Geniuses reading this will know that UV light is a Mutagen. A Mutagen is anything which mutates DNA. Fortunately for our Stone Age Man all UVC and most UVB is absorbed by the Ozone layer (UVC is the worst and UVA is the least harmful) but UVA which isn’t that bad passes straight through. But even though all UVC was being absorbed UVB and UVA are still Mutagens and so are a danger to Stone Age Man. Stone Age Man however has a weapon against UV light. A chemical called Melanin is produced in the Melanocytes which are in the Stratum germinativum (one of the lowest levels of the skin) through the process of Melanogenesis and this chemical protects the skin for the UV light by forming a dark cap over the epidermis’ nucleus thereby protecting the cell’s DNA and preventing any mutation taking place. Melanin is also a pigment which helps to protect the skin from the UV as well as capping the nucleus, this dark pigment is what we call a Tan. Through the process of survival of the fittest those who had the Melanin gene had a greater chance of passing on their gene’s to the point where everyone had this gene.
The more UV light received the more Melanin produced this is why people who live in desert countries, countries which receive larger doses of UV light have darker skin. But a tan doesn’t last forever because the Melanin slowly works its way up through the epidermis and eventually falls off as dead skin cells. While the Melanin doesn’t cause any damage the act of tanning does. While Melanin is an amazing substance it can’t be everywhere at once especially in people who don’t live in countries where there is a constant, high level of UV light. Since the Melanocytes aren’t designed in ‘white’ people to deal with vast amounts of UV light the Melanocytes just can’t keep up and so the UV light is able to get to some cell’s Nuclei before the Melanin shield can reach them and so the mutations begin, and when DNA starts mutating that only means one thing. Cancer.
Personally, I blame tanning salons for this. Blasting customer after customer which damaging UV rays and then getting paid for it! The type of cancer caused by this over-dose of tan is called Malignant Melanoma. Like all cancers is unpleasent to say the least, but i’m not going into the symptoms of this cancer. One thing I will say on the matter is that unlike most cancers, where you are given a rough guide on what not to do and maybe if your lucky you won’t get it, Malignant Melanoma is one of the easiest cancer’s to avoid all you have to do is not try and over-tan. Tanning from time to time is fine but trying to tan constantly will ruin your life to say the least.
And that my readers is the Terrible truth about tanning.