The Upside of Tanning

Suntanning may get a bad rap, but it's also nature's best source of vitamin D. That, and other reasons why soaking up the rays isn't all bad.

"The Upside of..." is a new series that uncovers surprising benefits of things universally panned for being unhealthy and/or bad for the environment. Basically, it makes you feel a little less guilty about your vices.

Palefaces and tanning addicts! I bring you glad tidings. Tanning and sun exposure are less nefarious than we all previously thought. True, soaking up the rays can be unhealthy and potentially fatal. But before you hide under that beach umbrella all summer, consider the following ways sun worship may actually benefit you:

Sun exposure is the most effective way to get vitamin D. Vitamin D’s benefits go beyond strong bones; every tissue in the body, from brain to heart, muscles and immune system, has vitamin D receptors. Vitamin D deficiencies have been linked to cancers of the colon, breast and prostate, high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, and other maladies. And most sun-phobic Americans—hiding behind our floppy hats and zinc oxide-smeared noses—are perpetually, and sorely, lacking in vitamin D.

You can meet some of your daily vitamin D requirement through nutritional supplements and diet, like wild-caught oily fishes and fortified milk. But your best bet is simply to manufacture your own vitamin D through exposure to UVB rays. The Harvard School of Public Health, Cancer Research UK and Australian health authorities now recommend “little and frequent” sun exposure, wearing no UVB-blocking sunscreen to inhibit your body’s natural vitamin D production.

There's a chemical found in most sunscreens that's a proven carcinogen. This just in from researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: Oxybenzone, an ingredient in sunscreen that blocks ultraviolet light, can imitate the effects of estrogen in the body, stimulating cancer cells to grow. Of course, you’d need to ingest vatfuls of the stuff before any adverse effects kick in, so don't go blazing around the house dumping your sunscreen in the trash just yet.

Sunlight beats back seasonal affective disorder in winter. Having lived in Berlin for several cruel winters, I can affirm all the folk remedies northern Europeans use to buck up in the dimly lit winters: popping cod liver oil capsules, walking outdoors during the peak sunlit hours, and visiting tanning beds for very short doses of UV light. Happily, the Mayo Clinic backs all these techniques; they also suggest taking St. John’s Wort, melatonin, SAMe and omega-3 fatty acids. But of all of these, exposing yourself to real sunlight, unfiltered through windowpanes, is undoubtedly best.

The tan is still a good look. Self-tanners may be safe, but the carroty-orange effect doesn’t hold a candle—or a lightbox—to the après-soleil allure of Coco Chanel, who first popularized the sun-kissed look in the 1920s after she accidentally got a sunburn. Why visually label yourself a grind who fears the outdoors?

As a blond with the dangerously alabaster skin to match, not to mention a family history of skin cancers, I’m watching my step outdoors and urge you to do the same. But the sun can be salubrious in small doses. Bottom line? Don’t be a rabid tanner–or a rabid absolutist–about tanning. Or about anything, really.

via Douglas Muth / Flickr

Sin City is doing something good for its less fortunate citizens as well as those who've broken the law this month. The city of Las Vegas, Nevada will drop any parking ticket fines for those who make a donation to a local food bank.

A parking ticket can cost up to $100 in Las Vegas but the whole thing can be forgiven by bringing in non-perishable food items of equal or greater value to the Parking Services Offices at 500 S. Main Street through December 16.

The program is designed to help the less fortunate during the holidays.

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For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

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via / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

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Photo by HAL9001 on Unsplash

The U.K. is trying to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but aviation may become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. by that same year. A new study commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and conducted at the Imperial College London says that in order for the U.K. to reach its target, aviation can only see a 25% increase, and they've got a very specific recommendation on how to fix it: Curb frequent flyer programs.

Currently, air travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, however that number is projected to increase for several reasons. There's a growing demand for air travel, yet it's harder to decarbonize aviation. Electric cars are becoming more common. Electric planes, not so much. If things keep on going the way they are, flights in the U.K. should increase by 50%.

Nearly every airline in the world has a frequent flyer program. The programs offer perks, including free flights, if customers get a certain amount of points. According to the study, 70% of all flights from the U.K. are taken by 15% of the population, with many people taking additional (and arguably unnecessary) flights to "maintain their privileged traveler status."

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