A couple of high school students in my neighborhood recently told me they are getting ready to hit the beach this summer by tuning up their suntans inside tanning beds.
When I asked one of my colleagues here at Penn, Dr. William James, a professor of dermatology, if the high school students had the right idea about getting a head start on a tan, he laughed out loud. A tan, he said, represents nothing more than damage to the skin. It is the body trying to defend itself against an environmental hazard — too much UV light. In other words, indoor tanning gets you ready for the beach in the same way that getting scalded in a hot tub gets you ready to be boiled alive.
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