You Can’t Fool Your Health With A Sunless Tan

From Mercola.com (2/13) Sunless Tanning: Why Baking Is Out and Faking Is In by Dr. Joseph Mercola

“Dermatologist-recommended” sunless tanning lotions and sprays are being called “a better way to get that golden glow.”
The basic message? Skip the sun and simply “fake” your tan with a bronzer or sunless tanner instead  Most people like the look of a deep tan because it gives you that healthy “glow” that happens when you’ve spent a little time in the sun.

Achieving a deep, dark tan from natural sun exposure or a safe tanning unit is often a good indicator that your vitamin D levels are where they need to be – and this is a signal of optimal health. But if you’re getting the tan without the sun … well that is missing the point completely!

The tan that you get after exposing your skin to sunlight is a natural “side benefit” of exposure to UVA and UVB light from the sun. While the UVA rays provide most of the “tanning” effect, which is your body’s natural way of protecting your skin from sun damage, UVB rays can also lead to skin reddening and sunburn, if you stay out too long. But more importantly, it is the UVB rays that allow your body to produce valuable vitamin D, and instead of oxidizing the already existing melanin in your skin, produce new sun-protective melanin, which results in a healthier tan. This is why getting safe sun exposure every day is actually one of the best actions you can take for your health. If that is simply not an option, as it is for most in the winter, a safe tanning bed can also be used. The point isn’t to “get tan,” it’s to optimize your vitamin D levels, the natural result of which will be both a healthy glow and tan.

Why Sunless Tanning Can Be Dangerous

Spray tans are generally considered to be benign cosmetic treatments — but are they REALLY?  Sunless tanners contain a lengthy list of chemical agents — up to 45 in the case of spray tanners. Many of these agents have never been studied for their long-term effects on human health, because the FDA does not systematically review the safety of personal care products. Since testing is voluntary and controlled by the manufacturers, many ingredients in cosmetic products are not safety tested at all.

One of the main ingredients in spray tanning solutions is dihydroxyacetone, a color additive that darkens your skin by reacting with amino acids in your skin's surface layer. Dihydroxyacetone is often abbreviated DHA (which should not be confused with docosahexaenoic acid, the healthy omega-3 fat often given the same abbreviation). Sunless tanning products often contain between 1 and 15 percent DHA; the higher the DHA level, the darker the tan produced.  Manufacturers of sunless tanning products claim DHA is a simple carbohydrate sugar solution, but some toxicologists disagree. Part of the problem is that the U.S. government's regulations for DHA allow contaminants such as lead, arsenic and mercury. Lead and mercury in particular are known to affect brain development, and no one knows how large the effect may be on your baby, should you be pregnant while spray tanning.

A report by the National Toxicology Program suggests the risks of DHA remain unclear, pointing to some evidence that DHA may be a mutagen that could induce breaks in DNA strands, which could contribute to accelerated aging and even skin cancer. Another issue is absorption through your skin. You shouldn't put anything on your skin you wouldn't feel safe eating. Absorbing chemicals transdermally is actually MORE dangerous than ingesting them orally, because they can be absorbed directly into your fat tissue, lymphatic system and bloodstream without any digestive degradation. Anything you consume orally must go to the highly evolved detoxification systems within your liver first before being released into your blood. Digestive acid also works, at least in part, to neutralize some chemicals — but this does not occur when you absorb them transdermally, or inhale them, for that matter.

When you have DHA-containing products sprayed on you in a booth, little droplets become suspended in the air all around you, increasing your risk for exposure through your eyes, nose and mouth. Wearing protective gear over your eyes, nose and mouth is extremely important — but it does not remove all the risk. In fact, earlier this year a panel of medical experts reviewed 10 scientific studies on DHA and concluded the use of DHA-containing spray tans may cause genetic alterations and DNA damage that could lead to cancer and chronic lung diseases when inhaled. Sunless tanning sprays have even been found to inhibit your skin's ability to produce vitamin D, as the dark layer on your skin produced by the DHA results in the prevention of UVB absorption, thereby inhibiting vitamin D production.

American Academy Of Dermatology Attacks Tanning Industry,
States Sunlight Not An “Efficient” Source Of Vitamin D

A news release from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) claims to “expose” the “truth” about the indoor tanning industry by dispelling their statement that indoor tanning is a good source of vitamin D. It is, in fact, a good source, assuming you cannot get outdoors for real sun exposure, and you use a safe tanning unit.

Outrageously, AAD states:  “ … dermatologists point out that UV rays are not very efficient in creating vitamin D in the skin. In addition, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends that the public obtain vitamin D safely from a healthy diet that includes food naturally rich in vitamin D, foods and beverages fortified with vitamin D, and/or dietary supplements, rather than by sun exposure or indoor tanning, which can cause skin cancer.”

For any rational physician or scientist to claim that UV rays are not efficient in creating vitamin D in the skin is virtually incomprehensible in light of the fact that, under optimal environmental exposures, your body can produce about 20,000 IU of vitamin D per day with full body exposure, about 5,000 IU with 50 percent of your body exposed, and as much as 1,000 IU with just 10 percent of your body exposed!

In the winter months however and/or during times of the year when insufficient amounts of UVB rays reach your location, you will most likely not get enough vitamin D. In that case, I recommend using a safe tanning unit, which is still better than oral vitamin D.

More On The Dangers Of Spray Tanning:

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Tanning & Natural Health News is a publication of Tan Plus /Essentials Of Life, Barclay Square, 350 Route 108, Somersworth, NH. This publication is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to be presented as medical advice. Product statements made have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration.

Copyright © 2015 • Ray Allard • All Rights Reserved

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