Indoor tanning is a dangerous activity. Tanning salons promise to provide consumers access to a beautifully bronzed body 12 months a year, but prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation due to frequent use of tanning beds can pose serious health risks. Some people are unaware that any tan or sunburn is actually a sign of skin damage. The body actually reacts to damage from UV rays by producing extra melatonin, which is a pigment that effectively darkens the appearance of skin. Over time, this damage can prematurely age skin and in many cases causes skin cancer.
Frequent tanners may be surprised to learn that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified tanning beds as “carcinogenic to humans,” which is the highest possible cancer risk category issued by the organization. Tanning beds have been linked directly to many cases of melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer. A direct correlation as also been established between frequent tanning and squamous cell carcinoma, which is another very dangerous form of cancer. Tanning beds not only damage to skin, but they prematurely age skin, increasing the risk of cancer at a young age. In fact, studies have concluded that the risk of melanoma of the skin increases by 75% among those who begin regular tanning bed use before age 35.
It is a well-known fact that UV rays from the sun cause skin cancer. It follows, then, that UV rays from a tanning bed will also cause cancer. Consumers who have been falsely led to believe that tanning beds provide a safe alternative to the sun are misinformed. There is no safe way to get a tan. Simply put, prolonged exposure to UV rays increases your chances of developing skin cancer.
As if the risk of cancer is not enough, tanning beds also dramatically increase the risk of several other health problems. Although regular tanning produces a socially desirable bronze tint to skin, it directly contributes to premature aging. Over time, tanning causes skin damage which will cause the skin to lose elasticity and wrinkly prematurely. UV radiation also reduces the body’s natural ability to suppress skin damage. This weakening of the immune system leaves regular tanners highly susceptible to other diseases. Tanning beds have also been link to irreversible damage to the eyes, as UV radiation easily penetrates eyelids.
The benefit of a tanned body simply does not outweigh the risks associated with tanning. Regular tanning causes skin cancer, makes you appear older than you really are, suppresses your immune system, reduces your vision, and can cause allergic reactions. Health professionals recommend people of all ages to think twice before laying down in a tanning bed for any length of time. Your skin and your overall health will thank you for the consideration.