Mythbuster Monday: Tanning Beds are Safe – Myth or Fact?

Myth – Even artificial tanning beds can cause skin cancer

Tanning salon owners and operators frequently claim sunbeds offer health benefits because they provide a “base tan” that helps avoid sunburn. This is a myth. “The evidence does not support a protective effect of the use of sunbeds against damage to the skin from subsequent sun exposure. There is no such thing as a safe tan” says Dr. Beatrice Secretan, coordinator of the IARC Working Group.

Contrary to popular belief, the most harmful rays, Ultra Violet Rays, are emitted by both the sun and indoor tanning beds. Since tanning beds concentrate ultra violet rays, they are even more dangerous than just being out in the sun.

FDA Statistics Prove the Risks of UV Rays Emitted by Tanning Beds

Even the first indoor tanning session can increase cancer risk by 20%, and every additional session in that same year increases chances another 2%. Even worse, people who begin tanning before 35 years old increase cancer risk by 75%.

In May 2014, the U.S. FDA updated the cancer risk of tanning beds from a class I (low to moderate risk) to a class II (moderate to high risk). Tanning beds are now unquestionably considered carcinogenic to humans. Not only are tanning-bed users more vulnerable to melanoma, they’re also 2½ times more likely to be diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma and 1½ times more susceptible to basal cell.

Tanning Has Other Risks

Not only does tanning increase your risk of skin cancer, but it can also cause other serious issues such as:

  • Blinding eye diseases
  • Changes in skin texture
  • Premature aging such as wrinkles and age spots
  • Immune suppression

Protect Your Skin — Protect Your Life

The best way to avoid skin cancer is to take precautions when being exposed to UV rays. We is recommend you avoid using both tanning beds and outdoor tanning methods. Apply a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day, including under any makeup. For extended outdoor activity, use an SPF 30 or higher.

The best way to get bronze? Get a spray tan at your local salon. Technology has improved and spray tans look more natural than ever.


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