Science Update - Tobacco and Tanning

15 April 2007

Interview with 

Chelsea Wald and Bob Hirshon


Bob -   This week for the Naked Scientists, we're going to highlight two ways you can lower your risk of cancer. I'm going to answer a listener's question about suntanning, but first, Chelsea has this report on a new research that could help smokers quit.SunburnChelsea -   Most smokers will tell you that a cigarette tastes especially good with a beer or a cup of coffee. But a new survey has revealed that, to some smokers, cigarettes taste especially bad with milk, fruits, vegetables and water. Clinical psychologist Joe McClernon of Duke University says that was surprising, and the finding could lead to a quit-smoking diet.Joe Mcclernon (Duke University):  It would make a lot of sense to me to develop a diet that could help a smoker not gain weight once they quit smoking but also maybe be used to help the smoker enjoy smoking less before they even quit smoking so that it's easier after they do.Chelsea -   McClernon adds that menthol cigarettes seem to clash less often with foods--possibly explaining why some people prefer them over other varieties.Bob -   Thanks, Chelsea. Everyone knows--or we hope everyone knows--that baking in the sun's ultraviolet rays damages your skin and may lead to premature aging and cancer. But with bathing-suit season on its way, Jessica Vega of Gainesville, Florida, emailed us to ask whether tanning beds are a better solution. We turned to dermatologist Stephen Stone of the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.Stephen Stone (Southern Illinois University School of Medicine):  No, tanning with a tanning bed is definitely not better than sitting out in the sun. The degree of tan that you get is a sign of damage to your skin, and whether it's natural ultraviolet or artificial ultraviolet, a given tan is a given sign of injury.Bob -   He and other dermatologists are hoping to change the cultural preference for tanned skin. But for those who insist on a tan, he recommends using sunless tanning lotions inside and a strong sunscreen outside.Chelsea -   Thanks, Bob. We'll be back next time with stories about hurricanes, droughts, and other extreme weather. Until then, I'm Chelsea Wald...Bob -   And I'm Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, The Science Society. Back to you, Naked Scientists!


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