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For decades, medical communities have warned the public about the dangers of tanning. Each year, doctors diagnose skin cancer more than any other type. Overexposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, artificial sunbeds, and sunlamps causes around 90 percent of all non-melanoma cancers. Research indicates some methods used to achieve a tan are unsafe and cause issues such as premature aging. Nonetheless, tanning continues to be a popular enhancement procedure for both men and women for its ability to deliver that “healthy glow.”

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1. Tans and Melanin

The body produces melanin, a pigment that adds color to human skin, hair, and eyes. Melanin provides a small amount of protection from the sun. Specialized skin cells called melanocytes increase the production of melanin when sunlight touches the skin. This increase in melanin production is a protective response that changes the skin's color. Lighter-skinned people may burn, while darker-skinned people turn a darker brown, which is what people refer to as “getting a tan.” Others may get freckles, which are uneven patches of melanin.

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