Whitesburg KY
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Shedding light on tanning



Recently, my daughter attended a sweet-16 birthday party for one of her best friends. She is a beautiful girl. When my daughter showed me pictures of her friend, I was shocked.

Her face and arms were deeply tanned. I have no idea how many hours she must have spent under a tanning machine. I am very concerned about her. Would you write about the dangers of tanning? — Anon.

Ultraviolet light, the kind of light we don’t see, has powerful effects on the skin.

Ultraviolet A rays constitute 95 percent of the UV light that makes its way to earth. UV A rays do not burn and tan skin as much as UV B rays, but they do damage skin.

They cause skin wrinkling; they dry skin; and they produce age spots (liver spots).

And they also add to the risk of skin cancer.

Ultraviolet B rays are more destructive. They are the burning rays, and they have a greater effect on skin cancer production. Both A and B reduce the skin’s innate immunity.

Exposure to both UV A and UV B injures the skin cells’ DNA, and that’s what sets the scene for future skin cancer. Humans have learned to cope with UV light by tanning.

A tan off ers some protection against further damage. UV light activates melanocytes, and they pass their melanin — a dark pigment — to other skin cells. That has the effect of providing an umbrella for the skin.

However beneficial that might be, the fact remains that in obtaining a modicum of protection with a tan, skin-cell DNA has been dealt a major blow.

No tan can be considered healthy. Sun exposure in adolescence might be the most dangerous time for ultraviolet damage. Tanning booths and tanning beds are considered a threat equal to the sun for promoting future skin cancer.

People of all ages should protect their skin from exposure to UV light. Such exposure happens every time a person goes outdoors. Cloud cover is a poor absorber of UV rays and off ers little skin protection. Sunscreen application should become a habit.

What’s considered ideal pool-water temperature? In our apartment complex, we have a large pool that is so cold I rarely use it. I am getting a thermometer to measure its temperature. I would like to have a reference temperature to present to management if the water is colder than it should be. — N.U.

Pool water is comfortable for most when its temperature is between 82 and 86 degrees F (28- 30 C).

The water is cool enough to keep strong swimmers from overheating, but warm enough to keep floaters from freezing

What’s the purpose of ear wax? I seem to produce tons of it. I can’t find an answer to this question, so I thought I would write to you. — C.N.

Ear wax keeps the ear canal moist. Without it, the canal’s lining dries up and itches. It also traps foreign debris, including bacteria, viruses and fungi that find their way into the ear canal.

Readers may write to Dr. Donohue or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.

©2010 North America Synd.

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