In the last 10 years, there has been a flood of information and new research that has shed an unattractive light on the risks of using tanning beds. I’ll admit, when I was in high school, I used a low dose UV ray tanning bed before prom, and it’s honestly probably the dumbest thing I’ve done in my life up until this point…other than getting my tongue stuck to the top of our refrigerator at the age of 5 trying to lick ice off the top of it. It’s honestly amazing that I’ve become a functional adult. What a weirdo. But seriously, tanning was even dumber..
Anyway, recently a lot of scary statistics have surfaced regarding the effects of tanning. On the flip side, more and more information has come out exhibiting our need for vitamin D, a vitamin we can only get naturally from the sun. So at what point do the risks outweigh the benefits? Read on and I’ll let you decide.
- Tanning bed use in youth is associated with skin cancer and a 75% increased risk in melanoma in those who first used tanning beds between their teenage years and their twenties. There is also a 69% increase in basal cell carcinoma. (FYI, melanoma is the deadliest cancer. However, basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, while generally benign, have their permanent effects. They need to be removed and the biopsies and excisions will likely leave scarring. Google it, the results kind be pretty intense.)
- One of the major criticisms by the tanning industry was the lack of a dose-related response to tanning. However, in a retrospective study conducted in 2010 by Lazovich and colleagues, there was a 74% increase in melanoma risk in those who had EVER tanned indoors versus those who had not. Tanning 10 or fewer times was associated with a 34% higher risk of melanoma. Those who tanned more than 100 times or more had a 272% higher risk compared to those who had never tanned. Just think, if you tanned once a week for two years in high school, you have already surpassed that 100 incidence mark. That is not a lot, and it’s super scary!
- It is possible that there is some level of biochemical addiction that can occur with tanning. Many patients report relaxation, pain relief, and improved mood. Studies have shown that perhaps these patients have a predisposition to addiction.
- Tanning bed UV radiation is 2-3 times more intense than the sun striking the equator at noon. Seriously, that is freaking hot!
- Tanning beds emit two different types of wave – UVA and UVB. UVB is a complete carcinogen – it directly damages your DNA. UVA is an indirect carcinogen. It promotes the production of DNA-damaging free radicals.
Currently, indoor tanning has been banned for individuals under the age of 16 in Wisconsin, 17 in New Jersey and New York, and under 18 in 11 other states. In many states, parental permission is required for minors. A few countries have completely outlawed indoor tanning, and many salons are required to post the risk of cancer on their beds.
Now fortunately, there are several means to obtaining a sunless glow (spray tans, tinted moisturizers, lotions, etc.). And with the availability of Vitamin D over the counter, there are way healthier ways to obtain this critical vitamin than subjecting your body to intensive damage. Now, just because getting your rays outside is less damaging than indoor tanning, it doesn’t mean that there are no risks associated with being outdoors without sun protection. Look for a post of that coming up in the next few weeks!
Hope this was helpful! What are your thoughts?
Thanks for stopping by!
XOXO – Emmy Lou Lou
*** All information and statistics were obtained from Uptodate and Medscape.