Break out the suntan oil and fire up the aluminum foil—it’s tanning season!
Or don’t. Because tanning is extremely dangerous. Just ask Tawny Willoughby, who posted an extraordinary selfie of her skin cancer treatment on Facebook. The graphic photo shows intense scabbing on her forehead, cheeks, chin and nose.
The 27-year-old registered nurse captioned the photo, “If anyone needs a little motivation to not lay in the tanning bed and sun here ya go!”
Willoughby explained that she was first diagnosed with skin cancer at age 21 and has since been treated five times for basal cell carcinoma and once for squamous cell carcinoma. In high school, she says that she tanned an average of four to five times a week, both in the sun and in tanning beds, and did not ever visit a tanning bed twice in one day.
Though Willoughby’s decision to post such graphic evidence of the dangers of tanning is unusual, her story is not. Melanoma rates for people between 18 and 39 years old are up 800% since 1970—it’s the second most common cancer in adults under 30.
The popularity of indoor tanning beds is believed to have contributed to the rise. Some tanning salons claim it’s not dangerous but don’t believe the hype—a report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer said tanning indoors increases cancer risk by 70%.
So instead of the suntan oil, reach for the SPF. As Willoughby says in her post, “You only get one skin and you should take care of it.”