Take your choice: tanning beds, leeches or text messaging while driving?

Bob Hatcher

November 5, 2010

How do you want to kill yourself?  There are so many creative ways we can do ourselves in. From leeches (that contributed to the death of our first President), tanning beds and text messaging while driving, to alcohol, drugs, smoking and chewing tobacco, it’s our habits that often do us in. 

Here’s a question I received on my contraceptive website, www.managingcontraception.comm:

Hello, Dr. Hatcher, I was asked an excellent question the other day by a client.  She is using the contraceptive patch regularly and consistently.  Recently she started going to a tanning salon (much to our discouragement) and she noted that the patch would get very warm and become slippery on her skin.  She was concerned that it might provide inadequate contraception for her due to this.  Have you heard anything about the patch and tanning beds?

Hannah Varto, Nurse practitioner

Clinical Practice Leader and Family Nurse Practitioner

Child and Youth Programs

Vancouver, B.C. Coastal Health


          My reply to her was as follows:

“I am not aware of proven negative effects of tanning beds on the effectiveness of contraceptive patches.

“Certainly what you tell me suggests that tanning beds can cause patches to lose some of their adhesiveness.

“Continue to discourage use of tanning beds primarily because they are unhealthy, but also because the changes you describe suggest that they are not wise for users of patches from an effectiveness viewpoint either.”

I also sent Hannah Varto the following wisdom regarding tanning booths.

          Never use a sun lamp or tanning booth, and ignore tanning salons that claim to use “safe” tanning rays.  There is no such thing.  “We call tanning booths and beds the skin’s doomsday machine,” says Dr. Bark.  “If you had a group of scientists figuring out ways to intentionally destroy human skin, they’d come up with a tanning parlor.  You’re nuking your skin, microwaving it, cooking it until it sizzles.”  If the risk of skin cancer isn’t dangerous enough, Dr. Bark has seen women with herpes simplex sores on their buttocks and backs and fungus infections like ringworm on their legs from lying on unhygienic tanning beds. [Women’s Wisdom – 2000]  These words are followed by a little photo of a coffin!


Two-thirds of the most recent groups of medical students and

public health students whom I have taught at Emory DO text

message while driving.  I simply can’t believe it!  It is clearly

just about the most dangerous thing a person can do to

himself, herself or others.  It is both suicidal and homicidal.

So, please help us, Georgia State legislators, police and the

Rabun County Sheriff’s Office!