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Can Swedes kick the fake-bake habit?

The Local · 12 Nov 2010, 12:33

Published: 12 Nov 2010 12:33 GMT+01:00

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There is no doubt that Swedes love the sun. In the summer, Swedes soak up the rays at home, in city parks and quiet islands.

In the winter, Swedes flock to exotic beaches in Thailand and Mallorca to chase a golden glow.

However, the allure of Swedes' sun-kissed colour is that it usually comes naturally. In a country that doesn’t see too much sun for much of the year, it is alarming that a few weeks enjoying the outdoors can lead alarming increases in skin cancer rates.

Is there another reason behind the spike in cancer rate? Could it be that Swedes still fake and bake?

This past year, quite a controversy stirred up about Sweden’s use of tanning beds. Over half of the country’s municipalities, around 55 percent, have tanning beds available at the public gyms and pools.

Sweden’s Department of Environment and Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) has been avidly working to curb solarium use by recommending stronger regulations and limited use.

The Solari Association predicts that the tanning bed industry will take a hard hit financially due to the government pressure. Estimates claims that the industry’s turnover has already fallen by at least 30 percent since last summer.

Peter Bergh, branch manager of Solari Association told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper that "Bankruptcies have begun, and there will only be more."

So, despite the negative press and bad side effects, are Swedes still tanning? The general consensus seems to say no, that tanning beds are simply out of fashion.

Mareike Nuemann, of The Local's Style in Sweden blog, says, "Going to the solarium three times a week with the result that the skin tone becomes orange will definitely look cheap."

Once coveted, tanning beds are now a symbol of poor taste and low self esteem. Swedes are proud of their healthy life styles and their natural, carefree beauty. Thus a trip to solarium is hardly something to brag about.

"I don’t know anyone who goes tanning, or at least who would admit to it," explains 24-year-old Elisabet Olme.

"I suspect one friend of mine might go, he is always so perfectly bronzed, but he would never, ever tell me. I think maybe teenage girls who don’t know any better still go, and those horrid older, orange ladies, but I myself would never go tanning."

So if tanning beds are such a faux pas, why do Sweden's cancer rates keep rising? Are Swedes secretly sneaking into tanning beds? Research suggest that perhaps Swedes may have a hard time shaking the habit of lying down under the lights.

Story continues below…

According to Steve Feldman, a professor of dermatology at the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, tanning beds are not only cancer inducing, but addictive.

The ultra-violet (UV) radiation emitted by tanning beds produces endorphins in the human body which, in effect, gets solarium users high. And addictive behaviour can be hard to break.

The Radiation Safety Authority, therefore, has its work cut out for it when it comes to curbing Swedes' need to tan. And hopefully, people will finally catch on and realise that frequent trips to the solarium are no alternative for catching rays the natural way, albeit in moderation.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:55 November 12, 2010 by Swedesmith
Okay, kiddies, study hard in school with a goal of becoming a dermatoligist. You will be in great demand in about 10 years when all the skin cancers start to kick in.
20:56 November 12, 2010 by HYBRED
Maybe the Swedes mentioned in this story are seeking the "immigrant" look?
08:50 November 13, 2010 by Dom har glömt
It is ok to take a tan three times a week for a couple of minutes. Its not going

to kill you. If in a country with hardly any sunlight it is better to get at least

15 min of tanning a week, because will get vitamin D into your skin. Just dont

over do it and you should be ok. Women are at greater risks than men

are, but again, a couple of minutes is not going to hurt.
11:25 November 13, 2010 by calebian22
Take a multi vitamin instead. No dermatologist will recommend tanning (outside or in a booth), for a very important reason. It damages your skin.
14:05 November 13, 2010 by Streja
Most Swedish women who want to look tanned use self tan lotion these days.
18:56 November 13, 2010 by RealLove
they are solarium addicted
21:26 November 13, 2010 by mikewhite
During the summer I noticed the "tandoori" look.
05:38 November 14, 2010 by Dom har glömt
Diatary sources of vitamin D include fatty fish and liver, but to store the recommended amount would mean eating three portions of fish a week.

The minimun desirable intake is 1000 (IU) international units of vitamin D a day, but a regular diet provides just 150. Vitamin supplements are around 200 IU a day. So you might say , just take more pills. Nope, because then you are getting too much of the same vitamin which may be dangerous. A little bit of sun will

provide natural vitiman D.
11:17 November 14, 2010 by TheOriginalBlackMan
Many Europeans who have next to no melanin tan so as to look healthy and young. It is a known observation by non-bigots that Europeans with next to no melanin age badly. A well conditioned Black African looks 20 years younger than a Swede or any other Scandinavian.

Also its absurd to blame the increase in skin cancer among Europeans on tanning beds when it actualy has due to their lack of melanin. Evoulution theory when examined closely really makes no sense, hej?

I submit to you that the increase in skin cancer has everything to do with many Swedes laying out in the sun during the summer. Swedes like many Europeans do not have the natural protection or the ability to absorb the sun rays, melanin.
12:09 November 15, 2010 by BruceWilk
I believe in natural beauty so tanning is a big NO for me. Anyway if you want your skin to look darker and want to get some vitamins at same time try to drink carrot juice every day. Even if it won't darken the skin at least it's healthier than tanning
14:46 November 15, 2010 by Tusker
For those who go to the tanning booths to alleviate winter depression may I recommend they look at Green Light therapy.

It is very simple and only costs the price of a green light bulb. How it works is to sit in a room, with the curtains drawn, so completely dark, then switch on a single source of green light and stare at it for about 20-30 minutes per day. The entry of green light through the retina has the same effect as the whole of the body being exposed to sunlight.

There are articles related to scientific studies of this subject, available on the internet, particularly from the University of Munich. Hope this helps somebody
15:19 November 15, 2010 by Argentina84
@Tusker: Thank you so much for mentioning the Green Light Therapy. I will definitely try it because my first winter in Sweden was awful and I don't want to become depressed again!!! =)
16:28 November 15, 2010 by Tusker

Thank you for your comment. I wish you a more pleasant second winter and only ask you let people know how you get on with Green Light Therapy.Why this treatment has been ignored, is probably because there isn't any money to be made from it.
12:39 November 16, 2010 by Tennin
I believe my mother inlaw and brother inlaw are both addicted to the tanning beds. Maybe they need intervention, haha.

But seriously all year long these two are super brown, and evenly with no farmer tan lines. The rest of the family is really pale being that they're Swedish. I'm naturally a little light tan all year long, but these two make me look pale. I know when I first moved here they would go about 3 times a week, but now the brother denies using the tanning bed but still remains just as tan.
13:03 November 16, 2010 by mikewhite
Oh well in a couple of years they will have the skin of Brigitte Bardot - have you seen what she looks like these days ?!
14:12 November 16, 2010 by Makaveli
@Tusker...I want to try the "Green Light Terapy" but am afraid i might emerge from it looking like the Green Hulk....hehehhe. Should i be concerned...I need some advice. lol
15:05 November 16, 2010 by Jes
I lost a bet and made a plegde to not comment nomore . But this one wakes me up . I suspend the deal.

Sometime ago , Swedish health authorites slapped a ban on all skin-lighting products that are used by some dark-skinned people . mostly women from Africa and Southern Asia . The reason given was/ is that usage causes skin cancer although there is no recorded data in Sweden on which to base this argument .

Some opponents of these produtcs even reasoned that skin-lightng is a reflection of an inferiour complex among the users - meaning that they imagnine that being white / lighter is a sign of beauty and might leed to success . The users were never given any chance to say that there are always risks in most of the things we use in our daily lives - like talking on phone while driving , something that Sweden has refused to ban .

Ironically , the same anti -cancer authority knows that Sweden looses over 5000 of its citizens due to cncers that are directly related to smoking .; yet no one bans the smelly habit

Then this !

I held my breath waiting for the writer of this article- who could be a smoker - to say that the white people who risk skin cancer in order to look dark do it under the illusion that being dark-skinned is a sign of beauty and might lead to success . None of that come .

I waited for the line where the Health Authorities suggest to ban this dangerous practice . Nothing come .

Consequently , my position remains the same : it is just enough to inform the public about the dangers and risks that are involved in using a comestic product . The fact is that there are a lot of people who will want to tone up/down their skins for one reason or other . The issue has nothing to do with trying to become white or dark . In UK , 64% of white women use a skin-darkening creams or something .

There are women who will enlarge their breasts ( and men who will appreciate it ) even if we all know that this is "borrowed beauty"

The danger, therefore , is not the tanning machine , it is the hypocricy .
18:43 November 16, 2010 by Andersonville
Jes, many women of color, myself included, use fade creams not to achieve whiteness but to lighten dark blemishes. I don't know how that myth of what fade cremes are meant to achieve continues to be perpetuated??? Nonetheless, that being said, it's important to note that there are now more natural and healthier products which produce the same result albeit at a much slower rate. Therefore, while the authorities there in Sweden may have been a bit misguided ( no way off!), the ban may have had an overall net positive effect.
12:17 November 17, 2010 by Tusker

You will know if things are going wrong if your clothes start to split!

It is a perfectly safe therapy...check it out on other sources
14:23 November 17, 2010 by Jes
Andersonville , I am aware that many women of color use fade or other creams . It is clear from my comment that I am also aware that it is not only women of color that use creams for one reason or other .In UK , more white women consume skin-toning creams more than women of color do.

My point was that it always women of color that are selectively accused of trying to deny who they are , allagedly because of " bleaching their skins " while the white women are never accused of attempting to become black when they darken their skin or hair color .

I am sure that if it was people of color who were using baking-machines that may cause cancer , the machines would have been banned a long time ago .

I am saying that if Sweden cannot ban tobacco , breast implants , and baking machines , it makes no sense for them to ban skin creams , unless they mean to say that women of color are not intelligent enough to dicide for themselves , which makes the ban a racist one as opposed to a medical one .
16:18 November 17, 2010 by heu
Looks like tanning beds were replaced by taning lotions (dye) then. It is so obvious when people fake tan, just look at all the orange girls on the streets. There are plenty.
23:53 November 17, 2010 by Swedesmith
@hue Is that the same as looking at the girls' oranges when they walk down the street? I usually get slapped for that...
12:13 November 19, 2010 by Marc the Texan
Why is everyone so afraid of the sun? The sun in Sweden is incredibly faint. People have always worked and lived in the sun. I'm out in the sun every day. Not for vanity, but because it makes me feel good. The evolutionary adaptation of white skin is to allow it to produce vitamin D in places like Sweden where its hard to come by. Dark skinned people living in Sweden definitely need supplementation otherwise they will risk the degenerative diseases of vitamin D deficiency.
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