Our skin has its limits

«The EU is to be praised for taking a stand on the matter of sunbeds,» Nikos Stavrianeas, associate professor of dermatology at Athens University and director of the second dermatology clinic at the Attikon Hospital in Haidari, told Kathimerini. «Dermatologists have long sounded the alarm about the dangers of this method.» As Stavrianeas explained, «In the past we believed that ultraviolet alpha rays (UVA) had a therapeutic effect on some diseases and they were widely used as a cure for psoriasis, skin lymphomas and pre-lymphomas. This view allowed the creation of solariums (which use UVA) for aesthetic purposes. But then international studies showed that exposure to UVA increases the risk of skin cancers including melanoma. Since then the use of UVA for therapeutic purposes has been restricted.» The same does not apply, however, to solariums, where people go to get a tan. «The radiation our skin receives on a sunbed must be added to the radiation it receives when we are exposed to the sun,» said Stavrianeas. «Each individual has a genetically determined limit of how much exposure to the sun their skin can take. That is 50,000 hours for people with light skin and 150,000 hours for those with dark skin. Once that limit has been passed, the risk of skin cancer rises. It is as if you had a reserve of capital in the bank. Every time you go out into the sun you make a withdrawal. The more you are exposed to the sun, the sooner your capital will disappear.»