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Spray tan may lead to cancer

Thursday 14 June, 2012 by Cairín

In the news  yesterday, it was revealed that spray tans, used by many as a safer alternative to sunbeds, may create serious health problems including cancer.

The substance known as dihydroxyacetone (DHA), the main ingredient in sprays, is potentially harmful if inhaled as it can enter the lungs and be absorbed into the blood stream where it could damage DNA and cause tumours.

However, this research was only carried out on cells in the lab, not on humans, so the results are not conclusive. But with researchers in the US expressing "concerns over their safety" are you willing to risk it?

At least spray tans are a much safer option than solariums or tanning from sun exposure. When it comes to sunbeds, the research is unquestionable - use a solarium before the age of 35, increase your risk of melanoma by 75%. Spray tans seem to emerge as the lesser of two evils.

But it does prompt the question, why are we are so intent at changing our skin colour? Here in Australia, we are desperate for a honeycombed hue as demonstrated by tanned young women promoting a "healthy glow" in the magazines and billboards across the country. Yet in Asia, the beauty ideal is a pale, translucent complexion and whitening creams are very popular.

A new Community Service Announcement by the American Academy of Dermatology, "Born ," asks at what age is the colour your skin was meant to be, no longer beautiful. The message is simple: Change your thinking not your skin. Stop tanning.

We have come a long way since the days of tin-foil, reef-oil and the dark tan aspirations of the 80s but shades of honey brown and bottled tangerine still cast a long shadow. Pale role models like Cate Blanchett and Miranda Otto and campaigns like "Born" are a reminder that beauty needn't be bronzed, but it's going to take a lot more than that to cancel out more than a century of sun worship.

For me, I gave up spray tans years ago, frustrated with the expense and time consuming nature of such extensive beautification. Surely the old face of make-up, hair removal and hair straightening routines are more than enough? I'm all for self-improvement and I'm not telling you to ditch the diet and fitness plan and let it all hang out! But I am saying leave well enough alone. Your skin looks great - pale, olive or dark.

Embrace what is uniquely you, redefine "beauty" and end the reign of tangerine tan terror for good.

Who's with me?!

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