May is Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. As warmer weather approaches, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) addresses common misconceptions about tanning.

MDHHS reminds us that:

  • Controlled tanning is not safe tanning
  • A base tan is not a safe tan.
  • Tanned skin is not healthy skin

A tan is how the body responds to injury from ultraviolet (UV) rays, showing that damage has been done.

“According to the CDC, indoor tanning can cause skin cancer including melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer,” says Eden Wells, MD, chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “Indoor tanning is particularly dangerous for younger users; people who begin indoor tanning during adolescence or early adulthood have a higher risk of getting skin cancer. People need to protect their skin and limit their exposure to ultraviolet rays, whether from the sun or indoor tanning beds.”

The American Cancer Society projects that in Michigan, there will be more than 2,500 cases and 300 deaths due to melanoma in 2016.

A 2013 study found that one in five high school females still engaged in indoor tanning and about one in ten girls used an indoor tanning bed 10 or more times during the year. Using a tanning bed before the age of 35 is associated with a higher risk of developing melanoma.

Tips for keeping your skin healthy:

  • Protect your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays.
  • Avoid the sun during the middle of the day.
  • Cover exposed skin, wear sunglasses and a hat and also use sunscreen.
  • Avoid tanning beds and check your skin regularly.
  • Talk with your doctor if you notice any changes with your skin.