To Tan or not to Tan…

Dear TeenSMACK,
I want to be tan when wearing my bathing suit and I want tan for prom, too. I am thinking of going to a tanning bed. Will this prevent me from getting a sunburn and make me tan, too?

Dear Tan Fan,

Indoor tanning exposes you to two types of UV rays, UVA and UVB, which damage the skin and can lead to cancer. Indoor tanning is particularly dangerous for younger users; people who begine indoor tanning during adolescence or early adulthood have a higher risk of getting melanoma, a deadly cancer. This may be due to greater uso of indoor tanning among those who begin tanning at earlier ages.

  • Causes premature skin aging, like wrinkles and age spots.
  • Changes your skin texture.
  • Increases the risk of potentially blinding eye diseases if eye protection is not used.

Tanning indoors is not safer than tanning in the sun.
Indoor tanning and tanning outside are both dangerous. Although indoor tanning devices operate on at timer, the exposure to UV rays can vary based on the age and type fo light bulbs. Indoor tanning is designed to give your high levels of UV radiation in a short time. You get a burn from tanning indoors, and even a tan indicates damage to your skin.

A base tan is not a safe tan.
A tan is the body’s response to injury from UV rays. A base tan does little to protect your from future damage to your skin caused by UV exposure. In fact, people who indoor tan are more likely to report getting sunburned.

So do NOT use tanning beds for any reason. The long-term damage is not worth the look of early spring tan. You will look beautiful and healthy with your natural skin color now and well into your adult years.


Dear TeenSMACK,
My dad just suffered a heart attack and is in the hospital recovering. I am worried about my heart. What can I do to make sure I am okay?

Dear Heavy Hearted,
Keeping you heart healthy is a life long project. Here are four steps you can follow to keep your heart healthy:

Exercise. Your heart is a muscle and physical activity and exercise is good for your heart. This doesn’t mean joining gym club or running on a treadmill. Think of just being active 20 minutes a day…take your dog for a walk, go for a walk, for for a bike ride, walk to school, or use steps in buildings instead of elevators, for example. If you are an athlete, you are probably getting enough exercise with your coach at practice. Exercise will help you maintain a healthy weight, which is good for your heart, too!

Eat healthy good. Starting in the preschool years, animal fat in your diet will increase your cholesterol levels. This cholesterol can coat the insides of your blood vessels, which makes your heart have to pump extra hard to circulate your blood. Food this is healthy for your heart is food that is high in fiber (e.g. oatmeal), and food with low fat counts like fruits and vegetables. Beef is very high in fat, as is shrimp and lobster. Fish, especially salmon is good for your heart health.

Don’t smoke or vape. The chemicals and noxious fumes that enter your lungs are absorbed into your blood stream and will damage your heart. In addition, the damage to your lungs makes getting oxygen into your blood stream and to your heart very difficult. This adds to the work load of you heart and can tire it out prematurely.

Finally, if your family has a history of members having early heart attacks before the age of 50, or early strokes or high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels, see your pediatrician for physical exam and some screening lab tests that can help determine the health of your heart.


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