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Sun damage shock Sunbed fan urges caution in BBC's Tanorama after doctors remove suspect moles

Mum-of-six Tracy Morgan bravely volunteered to take part in a mole mapping check for new BBC documentary Tanorama


Tracy has now cut back on her sessions

Tracy has now cut back on her sessions

Tracy has now cut back on her sessions

Tan fan Tracy Morgan has urged sun worshippers to take care after doctors revealed her skin damage.

The mum-of-six bravely volunteered to take part in a mole mapping check for new BBC documentary Tanorama.

It found she has more than 30 suspect moles, a further 20 which need to be monitored, and two which had to be removed.

The programme also reveals that for some sunbed users, particularly people who have suffered from anorexia and bulimia, the sessions are simply swapping one addiction for another.


Tan fan Tracy Morgan

Tan fan Tracy Morgan

Tan fan Tracy Morgan

Tracy's skin damage is a legacy of thousands of sunbed sessions since her late teens, and there were occasions when she'd have three in a day to get dark enough.

For the Carrickfergus woman, the precious minutes in the tanning booth are time for herself in a busy life.

The 44-year-old says she was shocked to discover the extent of her skin damage and she'll never forget the dermatologist's diagnosis.

"I felt pure panic when the doctor told me that day two moles had to be removed.

"I knew from the first day because she kept going back to those two. I knew then this isn't just going to be a quick injection, but I got them removed very quickly and after five weeks I've got the all clear."

Tracy, who works in a sunbed salon, says she's been 'tan shamed' looking back at pictures of herself when she never felt dark enough.

Her burning desire to be brown hit a peak last year when she tried tanning injections melanotan after buying them online.

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The jabs, which can cause muscle cell damage, made her violently ill after the first injection.

"I look back at pictures of myself and think ''why did I ever want to get to that colour?'

"I think you get to the stage where you don't see it any more," says Tracy.

"You don't see yourself getting any darker. You look at yourself every day and don't see any change.

"Probably towards the end of last year it became an obsession big time. The people coming into the shop were so brown and I was thinking I would love to be that colour.

"I don't do fake tan because it's just not for me. I just think it looks dirty."

Tracy's mole removal has changed her attitude to the ultimate tan, and it's made her think twice about lying in the sun on holiday.


Donatella Versace

Donatella Versace

Donatella Versace

She says she will never give up sunbeds entirely, but caution will be key.

"On holiday I would have lay and baked from morning to night. The dermatologist told me about wearing factor 50 so I'll rethink what I do.

"If it hadn't been for the documentary people approaching me and asking me to speak to the dermatologist, I wouldn't have known anything about the moles.

"I didn't realise I had damaged myself so badly.

"I still enjoy a sunbed, it's my time, and I still see it as that, but I'll do three minutes instead of 12. I'd say be cautious because when you overuse a sunbed you're going to burn. Tanned skin is burned and damaged."

The biggest life change since having her skin checked is going back to her natural colour.

"It's just a culture shock now at how white I've gone, but you've got to learn to love your skin and love yourself the way you are."

Young mum Lauren, who also talks in the programme about her tanning habits, admits she used to be bulimic. She's now eating and training regularly but uses sunbeds all year round to maintain a deep colour.

Compulsive tanning, known as tanorexia, has been the subject of medical research to explain why people continue to use sunbeds when they know the dangers.

Donatella Versace and American Pie actress Tara Reid have both become known for their passion for the sun and tanning beds.

According to the Department of Health the use of sunbeds in the under-35s increases the risk of skin cancer by 75 per cent.

Clinical psychologist Dr Raman Kapur says a tanning addiction can be a symptom substitution.

"Intuitively you will know this isn't good for me but rather than self-correcting you just keep continuing because it does give you a bit of a buzz.

"The thing about addiction and addiction to an extreme is it is like a fix, but if you find your fix is your way of dealing with inner distress or unhappiness - that's when it's potentially damaging."


Tara Reid

Tara Reid

Tara Reid

He says bulimia and anorexia can be a way of dealing with bad experiences, by violently expelling food or using denial of food as a form of punishment, and when people stop that they can move on to damaging habits like excessive tanning.

"Often people can get over it and get on with life, but then there is this phenomenon of symptom substitution and it becomes manifested in something else which may be more tolerable and manageable but at the end of the day it's getting to the underlying reason why people are doing damaging things to themselves," says Dr Kapur.

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