The sun and your skin

ARDMORE, OK - Dermatologists say tanned skin is a visible sign of damaged skin but a recent survey shows when asked, most Americans chose being tan over their skin's health. Doctors warn this dangerous trend is leading to an increase in skin cancer cases, but for those of you who like to have the summer glow, there is a way to be bronze and stay healthy.

Patricia Krentcil, also known as the 'Tanning Mom', was arrested earlier this month for second degree child endangerment after her 5-year-old daughter Anna showed up at school with a sunburn.

Although Krentcil claims her daughter's sunburn is from the sun, New Jersey authorities believe it was caused by Krentcil forcing her into a tanning booth.

Some may view the overly tan mom as a laughing matter, but dermatologists said her addiction to tanning can be deadly.

"Tanning beds are very, very bad," Dr. Susan Chon, M.D. said. "I think people have been misled they are good for you, they make you look better, good for your health. Those are all false."

Just ask Kim Benz, a Houston resident and former tanner, who was recently diagnosed basal cell carcinoma - a type a skin cancer.

"At one point I was 3-4 days a week using tanning beds and in the summer I would still using tanning beds and then go home and lay out by the pool," Benz said.

"As little as four sessions a year can increase your risk of developing a non-melanoma skin cancer which is the basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer by 15 percent and the risk of melanoma by 11 percent," Chon said.

But is there such a thing as a safe tan? Doctors say yes.

Local cosmetologist Crystal Sharpe said she helps people achieve their goal of being bronze everyday and not only is receiving a spray tan safe, it's fast.

"I would say a plus to spray tanning is definitely convenience," Sharpe said. "It's just a short twenty minute session and you're tan."

At tanning salons around Texoma a spray tan can cost anywhere from twennty to sixty dollars, but people like Benz say it's better than the alternative.

"I would never ever, ever touch a tanning bed, never," Benz said.

Doctors said the golden rule when it comes to your skin and the sun is: if you are going to be in it, wear sunscreen, if you want a tan, use self tanner and if you see a tanning bed, keep walking.

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