Woman trying to prevent others from excessive tanning

May 14, 2012 4:53:38 PM PDT
A young Houston woman who was once addicted to tanning is now on a mission to prevent others from the heartache of skin cancer. She has a big job. The government reports that one third of young white women still use indoor tanning equipment.

"Goes from my nostril all the way down and he cut through my lip," Kim Benz said.

That's what it took to remove a skin cancer from her face. And it changed Benz's life. She began using tanning beds at 17 and loved the way she felt.

"It definitely made me feel a rush, more excited or better about the way I looked," Benz said. "At one point I was three to four days a week tanning in tanning beds, and during the summer, I would still using tanning beds and then go home and lay out by the pool."

Now, at 38, Benz has seven or eight other spots that she says will have to be removed.

"The nose is the next one to come," she said.

"Tanning beds are very, very bad, and I think people have really been misled they are good for you, make you look better, they're good for your health. Well those are all false," Dr. Susan Chon said.

In the medical world, they now call the tanning bed a carcinogen.

"As little as four sessions a year can increase your risk of developing a non-melanoma skin cancer, which is the basal and squamous cell skin cancer type, by 15 percent and the risk of melanoma by 11 percent," Dr. Chon said.

Benz has started a new life without tanning and a new spray tan business. Already she's reaching people like Beth Wierzbrcki, who was told by a doctor to stop tanning too.

"We shouldn't go to the tanning beds, we should start using the sunscreen; so being a girl I want to be dark so I thought about trying the spray tan," Wierzbrcki.

Now, Benz is on a mission to prevent other young women from going through what she has.

"I would never ever, ever touch a tanning bed -- never," Benz said.

But she will have to worry about new skin cancers showing up, for the rest of her life.

Dermatologists say the deadly melanoma skin cancer is now the most common cancer in 25 to 29-year-olds, and it's increasing faster in women than in men.


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