What You Don’t Know About Antioxidants and Tanning

Oxidation from tanning negates any effect that topical antioxidant creams could provide.

I’m amazed how often deeply tanned women ask me about topical antioxidants for wrinkles.

If you have $100 worth of antioxidants and anti-aging creams in your bathroom, and you have a tan, we need to talk.

The amount of oxidation damage that you’re doing to your skin by tanning far exceeds the minuscule benefit any topical antioxidant cream could provide.

It’s like being 75 pounds overweight and having ketchup with your bacon cheese burger and fries because you heard that ketchup has lycopene which prevents diabetes.

If you’re concerned about wrinkles, brown spots, and other signs of aging, then the sun is always bad for you. You should wear sunscreen and protect against sun exposure as much as possible.

Purposely tanning your skin while trying to fight off aging with topical antioxidants and wrinkle creams is a losing battle. You would be far better off to avoid the sun completely without using any cosmetics than to spend hundreds of dollars on antioxidants creams only to purposely expose yourself to powerfully oxidizing radiation.

Photo credit: FCC, Steven DePolo

Dr. Oz Is Wrong On This One

Millions of patients turn to Dr. Oz for advice about their health. He makes complicated health issues easily understandable. Like any doctor, we don’t expect him to be correct all the time. Recently he made a mistake. He recommended using tanning beds for their health benefits.

The only known health benefit of ultraviolet B light (which is in some, not all tanning beds) is to increase vitamin D levels. We know that using tanning beds increases the risk of getting melanoma and the risk of getting other skin cancers. Fortunately, we also know there’s a safe and inexpensive way to increase your vitamin D3 level — simply take vitamin D supplements.

I’m sure if he  consulted a dermatologist (and it needn’t be me), then Dr. Oz would be better informed and would modify his advice. Melanoma skin cancer rates are increasing (while most other cancers are falling) and death from nodular melanoma skin cancer is unchanged despite decades of advances in medicine. We need to give our patients the best evidence we have so they can keep themselves and their families safe.

If this issue is important to you, then please help me by sharing  your thoughts with Dr. Oz and his audience.

Why Tanning Is An Unsafe Way To Get Vitamin D

I made this video while at the Lance Armstrong Foundation Headquarters in Austin, TX to help people understand why tanning is an unsafe way to get your vitamin D.

  • Your skin needs UVB to make vitamin D.
  • Many tannning beds use little or no UVB, so they wouldn’t increase your vitamin D levels.
  • Tanning beds increase your risk for melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma skin cancers.
  • Vitamin D3 supplements at doses of 1,000 to 2,000 IU are readily available.
  • Supplements have been proven to safely increase and maintain high levels of vitamin D.

Make a donation to the Lance Armstrong Foundation and win a chance to see Lance in France at the Tour de France.

Indoor Tanning Increases Your Risk of Cancer

Would You Like 10,000 or 20,000 Watts?

‘Tis the season for indoor tanning. Even some of my most educated, sophisticated patients think that a “little” sun tan is better than having “pasty white” skin. It isn’t.

One 2002 study by researchers at Dartmouth Medical School found indoor tanners were 2.5 times as likely to get squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times as likely to develop basal cell carcinoma as people who didn’t tan; the study didn’t analyze melanoma rates. Another report from Norway and Sweden followed women who regularly used tanning beds for eight years and found they had a 55 percent greater chance of developing melanoma than those who didn’t.

“Well, it must be better than actual suntanning,” you say.

… New high-pressure sunlamps emit doses that can be as much as 15 times that of the sun, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Your natural skin color, even if “pasty,” is beautiful.