In 2009, tanning beds were classified as carcinogenic. Carcinogenic is another word for cancer-causing. This means tanning beds are considered to be in the highest category of cancer risk to people.
Melanoma is the second most common cancer in women age 20-29.
Using tanning beds regularly when you’re under 30 increases your risk of skin cancer by 75 percent.
Some common myths used by the tanning industry:
"Our tanning beds use UVA rays, which are the safe UV rays”.
Both UVA and UVB rays cause damage to skin cells and can lead to skin cancer. UV rays are recognized as a main cause of all skin cancers. All tanning beds use UV rays.
"It is only dangerous to use a tanning bed if you burn.” OR "Use the tanning bed to get a base tan so you do not burn on vacation.”
Any sign of color or tan on your skin is a sign of damage to the skin cells. Some of those skin cells may be damaged enough that cancer may develop. This is why there is no such thing as a healthy tan.
Indoor tanning can also:
- Cause skin to age earlier than it should. Skin may start to sag or wrinkle, and age spots could develop as a result of UV exposure.
- Eyes can be damaged due to UV exposure.
- Some people have an allergy to UV radiation and could develop an itchy red rash or other signs of an allergy.
- UVB rays can cause the immune system to not work as well. This could leave you more likely to develop infections or diseases.
UV radiation to the skin is preventable
There are several ways to get a healthy tan. You can use a bronzer, which may come in a powder, crème or liquid form. Bronzers are great because you can alter your color from day to night and it washes off at the end of the day.
Sunless tanners come as sprays, mists, lotions or gels. For all sunless tanners you should make sure to prep the skin beforehand in order to avoid streaks. There are also gradual sunless tanning lotions. You can use these lotions to build your color to the level you desire.
Current laws in place or pending on tanning beds:
- The healthcare reform bill signed by President Obama in March 2010 places a 10 percent tax on tanning bed use.
- A bill is pending in Congress that would control how long a person can use a tanning bed at each visit and how strong the UV rays can be given off by a tanning bed.
Remember: Even though the tanning industry may say you need to tan to get Vitamin D, getting it from natural or fortified foods is the best and safest way to do it.
Source: UI Cancer Information Services