Friday, May 13, 2016

Guns and Sunscreen

Summer is coming.  Traditionally this is a time for vacation and for visiting the beach.  But even these activities require a little thought, a little critical thinking to avoid the consequences of poor behavioral choices.

Critical thinking about vacation means more than just planning the itinerary.  A recent news headline read:  “TSA Hits New Record After Confiscating 73 Guns In One Week From Carry-on Bags.”  Wow, guns are not allowed on an airplane?  These are not terrorists, just travelers.  Apparently people either forgot or were distracted or didn’t check their bags themselves before leaving for the airport.  Not only were they confiscated but the TSA carry-on screeners found that 68 of them were loaded and more than two dozen had a round in the chamber.  People inadvertently trying to take loaded weapons onto an airplane is crazy, but not in a funny way.  If they were surprised to find out there was a gun in their luggage, they were probably more surprised to be facing a citation of up to $11,000 or in some cases even being arrested, regardless of their intent or degree of inattention.  All that lack of thinking can put a really damper on that highly anticipated and well deserved vacation.

Besides flying, another activity associated with summer (but often throughout the year) is getting a nice, healthy-looking tan.  To those who are so inclined this news will come as an unpleasant surprise.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has permanently banned an Illinois company from marketing or selling indoor tanning systems.  These systems, the term tanning systems sounds more modern and scientific than tanning beds, were intended for home use and ranged in price from $1200 to $4000.  The FTC objection is that the marketers “ran ads claiming that their indoor tanning systems are safe, that research proves indoor tanning does not increase the risk of melanoma skin cancer, and that their systems which deliver both ultraviolet (UV) light and red light can ‘reverse the appearance of aging.’” The FTC labeled these claims as “false, misleading, or unsubstantiated.”  The company “also falsely stated that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has endorsed the use of indoor tanning systems as safe.”

It takes about 30 seconds of Internet research to find the facts.  American Academy of Dermatology website states, “Evidence from multiple studies has shown that exposure to UV radiation from indoor tanning devices is associated with an increased risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma." [They include 9 citations in footnotes to back up this statement].

Several other sources tell us the following: 
  • ·      Researchers estimate that indoor tanning may cause upwards of 400,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. each year.  That’s more than smoking.
  • ·      There is no such thing as a safe tan and the beds may be more dangerous than the sun. 
  • ·      Tanning can cause permanent structural damage to the skin, including wrinkling, age spots, and loss of elasticity, not make the skin younger.
  • ·      A base tan does not protect skin from damage. In fact, people who base tan are more likely to report getting sunburned, perhaps from overconfidence.
  • ·      Some who become addicted to tanning also are more likely to suffer from anxiety or mood problems.
  • ·      Indoor tanning has been banned by a number of countries.

Surprise, surprise!  Even a simple thing like a summer vacation requires a modicum of critical thinking.  One of these errors will have immediate consequences and the other will have a delayed effect.  In any case, check the carry-on.  Pack the sunscreen and unpack the revolver. 

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