By Michael Contino
Syracuse, N.Y. - If always having a tan is important to you, then living in Syracuse may prove challenging.
With clouds frequenting the air to winters that usually surpass 100 inches of snowfall a year, there simply aren't too many summer days between November and March.
Many in the area go to local tanning beds to make up for their perceived Vitamin D deficiency. At the same time, not every tanning bed or tanning salon is alike, and there are a few things people should know about tanning before stepping into a booth.
It doesn't take much searching to find long-standing medical arguments against going tanning. Among the established health risks of tanning is overexposure to ultraviolet, or UV radiation, which can lead to Melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer.
Here's a fact on tanning you probably didn't know, it comes from Dermatologist Dr. Joyce B. Farah.
"In cloudy cities such as Syracuse the clouds filter at best 15 to 20 percent of the UV radiation. So you're still getting 80 percent of radiation coming through."
On the Side of Caution
Melanoma can appear after going tanning only a couple of times, as Kelly Covert of Baldwinsville, NY found out the hard way.
At the age of 24, she had just started going tanning when she discovered "a large mole" on the back of her leg that ended up being "a malignant melanoma, the worst kind."
Now Covert is in full remission, but the tanning incident sticks with her today.
"I've been going to a dermatologist ever sicne, every six months, getting check-ups," Covert said.
Something separating local tanning Salons from one another is how far they go to prevent people they know shouldn't be tanning from tanning anyway.
Syracuse Tanning Salon Hakna Matata, led by owner Joe Contini, takes a very active role in monitoring it's customers. This includes a "skin type" survey which determines how long one should tan, structured tanning plans and dertailed electronic records of each customer.
It's important to note Hakuna Matata is a Tanning Salon only, unlike another local Salon like Garbo's, which also operates as a Hair Salon. Contini says there's a big difference between the two.
"You know hair salons right now, you go into a hair salon, it's mainly a cash business," Contini said. "You go in the back room, and you tan in a bed that's not controleld by anything."
At Garbo's, owner Dominick Barbano says his staff urges people with light skin or family histories of Melanoma not to tan, but in the end, it's up tot he idnividual to make the final choice at to whether or not to go tanning.
"It's all about self responsibility, and being responsible for your own behavior," Barbano said.
In Congres right now is the Tanning Bed Cancer Control Act. It would encrease tanning regulation, especially in terms of limiting UV radiation and increasing the size of warning size on tanning beds.
Opinions on the risks of tanning go from it being an absolute danger to your health, to it being something that simply needs more regulation and even an industry that should simply be left alone.
"There are no benefits to tanning and tanning booths, there are only risks." Dr. Farah said.
"We need to put alittle restriction on tanning salons, and you know, a lot of people at tanning salons are going to go nuts on me but, we really should," Contini said.
"The governmetn has no business in my decision maknig process," Barbano said. "It's really important that we as individuals decide what's right for us."