'Base tan' protection is a common misconception

Doctors warn spring break planners to skip the tanning bed


A lot of people are planning now for what they'll be doing when spring break comes up.  And doctors say a lot of times, spring break planning includes trips to the tanning bed to get their "base."

Dr. Melissa Piliang, a dermatologist at Cleveland Clinic, says there is a misconception that if you go to the tanning bed in the weeks leading up to spring break you will protect your skin from sun damage.

"People mistakenly think that if they are going on vacation and they tan before it will protect them. It doesn't protect you when you're on vacation and it just increases your overall exposure," she warned.

Piliang says a "base tan" also does not decrease your risk of burning in the hot spring break sun. She says tanning bed sessions just add to your total amount of UV radiation exposure.

UV rays are the ones that burn the skin and cause cancer. Piliang says studies have shown the risk of skin cancer jumps 75 percent when people start using tanning beds before the age of 30.

"In women aged 25-29 melanoma is the most common type of cancer and in kids 15-29- adolescents and young adults; it's the second-most common type of cancer," she explained.

The American Cancer Society estimates more than 2 million new skin cancers will be diagnosed this year.