'Sunbeds were an addiction' - Miss USA contestant opens up about frightening skin cancer diagnosis at 25
A Miss USA contestant has warned women about the dangers posed by sunbeds and opened up about being diagnosed with skin cancer at age 25.
Speaking to Cosmopolitan, Brittany Winchester (27), who is representing Indiana in the annual beauty pageant, said she became obsessed with sunbeds to achieve a tanned complexion.
The architect admitted lying in a tanning bed each day as a teenager, opening herself up to dangerous UV rays.
"My whole time in high school, I was literally a tanning bed addict," said Brittany.
"And then on top of tanning beds, in the summer months, I would lay out every chance I got or go hang out at the pool. My family and I boated, so I was always out on the lake. I was not safe in the sun, not really ever applying sunscreen. I was just always worried about being extra, extra tan and if I burned, I burned. It really was an addiction."
In 2015, Winchester was diagnosed with three basal cell carcinoma following a biopsy, after her dermatologist decided to investigate moles on her stomach and back.
The beauty pageant contestant underwent excision procedures to remove the layers of skin impacted, and said she was lucky to have caught the cancerous cells at such an early point.
Winchester said she is glad to have the platform of Miss USA to raise skin cancer awareness and said her bronzed complexion is now due to fake tanning products.
"Since that day in 2015 when I got told, I’ve never been back to tanning bed.
"I do still love to have some color, especially when I'm competing, but if anyone ever sees me in public and I look brown or bronze, it's spray tan or self-tanner," she said.