Tanning Beds and Its Dangers

It is safer to have a golden tan using commercial tanning beds. Just ask the more than one million Americans visiting tanning salons each day, bronzing their skins with these beds.

Or is it?

More and more research studies have shown that while the $2 billion-a-year tanning industry promotes that tanning indoors are safer than sunbathing, ultraviolet exposure from these commercial tanning beds is just as dangerous as direct tanning from lying in the sun.

These findings add credibility to the assertion of most skin experts that tanning is not safe, no matter how it is done.

No Such Thing as a Safe Tan

According to findings published in the May 2001 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, tanning using commercial beds does not mean one’s skin is safe from the harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation as opposed to direct exposure to the sun.

“When the skin is exposed to ultraviolet radiation, either through direct sun exposure or at a tanning salon, it produces a tan to prevent further damage. There can be no tan without the DNA damage,” said dermatologist James M. Spencer, MD, tells WebMD Medical News in an online report.

The study found out that after a single tanning session, molecular changes linked to melanoma, a deadly skin cancer, are routinely triggered. As a result of these biologic changes from tanning bed use, one could get skin cancer, according to the findings.

Many tanners seem privy to this information. In a study made by two researchers at the Brownman Gray School of Medicine in Wake Forest University, Winston Salem, North Carolina, those who regularly go use tanning beds may be aware of the harmful effects of the sun to the skin, but may not be aware that tanning beds can also do the same.

Even teens know the risks associated with tanning, including tanning bed use. Surprisingly, many teenagers still do it anyway, visiting tanning salons and tan themselves using tanning beds. The Associated Press (AP) on May 2, 2005 reported that the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) conducted a nationwide survey of 505 respondents aged between 12 and 17 on their views about tanning, including commercial tanning bed use. The AAD found out that most teens preferred having a tan. Almost 80 percent said they knew tanning can be dangerous, but 66 percent said it looks better to have a tan.

Skin-related ailments, therefore, come not as a surprise. In 2001, over 50,000 Americans are diagnosed of melanoma, with 8,000 people dying of the disease. Eighty percent of those who died of skin cancer are caused by melanoma. Findings also show that one in five American will develop skin cancer at some point. Worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, there are between two to three million people diagnosed with various skin cancer ailments.

That is why medical experts warn tanners of indoor tanning claims that it has no harmful side effects or that it will not skin cancer or skin aging. Even the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said that tanning using commercial tanning beds damages your skin. One gets a tan because the skin produces coloring or an additional pigment to protect itself against burn from UV radiation. Too much UV exposure can cause you skin cancer, not to mention, eye injury and early skin aging.

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