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may 18 tanning

May 15, 1998|By TERI JOHNSON

by Kevin G. Gilbert / staff photographer

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tanning beds

Lunch hours are a golden opportunity for Julie Meadows.

Meadows, a manager in cardmember services correspondence at Citicorp Credit Services Inc., slips into a tanning bed four or five times a week.

The 33-year-old mother of three says she doesn't have time to get out in the sun very much, and the 15- to 20-minute sessions at Sunbodies Tanning Salon and Boutique in Greencastle, Pa., help her to relax.

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She says with her golden brown tan she doesn't have to wear makeup or pantyhose, and her tan makes her feel more confident.

"I feel prettier, and I think I look better," she says.

Meadows, a Smithsburg resident, isn't the only one getting a jump on summer.

This is the busiest time of year at Sunbodies Tanning Salon, manager Becky Strait says.

"They want to start getting a base tan before they start wearing their shorts," Strait says.

People also begin working on a tan before they go on vacation, Strait says.

Evening sessions are booked solid through mid-June at Rain or Shine Tanning Salon in Boonsboro, manager LaRhonda Eslick says.

"It is out of control," she says.

Eslick calls the boom in business "the El NiƱo effect."

"We never really got a winter, and everyone is in the mood for tanning quickly," she says.

Eslick says the rainy spring has made people wish for the sun, and that climbing into a tanning bed makes her feel like she's walking out into bright sunshine.

"I can't claim it medically helps you with anything, but it lifts my spirits and makes me feel better," Eslick says.

Dr. James A. Schiro, a Hagers-town dermatologist, says the aging and damaging effects from indoor tanning are too great to justify any cosmetic benefit.

"Thirty minutes in a tanning bed is equal to an entire day at the beach," Schiro says.

The UVA rays in tanning beds penetrate more deeply, which leads to loose, sagging skin, Schiro says.

He says the risk for melanoma is one in 75 for the general population, and it increases to one in 20 with tanning bed use.

"The tanning bed industry is marketing strongly to have people tan, and we're trying to educate the public just as strongly that it's dangerous," Schiro says.

People need to be smart about their sun exposure, says Joseph Levy, executive director of International Smart Tan Network in Jackson, Mich.

The organization educates tanning facilities and tanners on how to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks, Levy says.

Levy says an estimated 28 million people in the United States - or 12 percent of the population - will use an indoor tanning facility this year.

About 65 percent of the clients at Sunbodies Tanning Salon and 90 percent of those at Rain or Shine Tanning Salon are women.

Strait says indoor tanning is safer because people sunbathing outdoors often don't time their exposure.

"In here, we do it gradually," she says.

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