Getting that perfect bronze glow at a tanning salon can actually be more harmful to your health than lying on a beach at noon. That’s because tanning beds emit both types of ultraviolet radiation – UVA and UVB – and studies show that they expose users to much higher concentrations of this harmful radiation than one would receive from the summer sun.
Research has shown that the use of tanning beds before the age of 30 increases the risk of melanoma by an alarming 75%, and melanoma is responsible for more than 70% of all skin cancer deaths. Amazingly, the amount of UVA and UVB used in tanning beds is not regulated by the FDA or any other federal agency.
Dermatologists have been warning people about tanning beds for years, but this serious health risk should also be added to the issues discussed with teens in high school health classes, as well as with parents and pediatricians.
So if you are planning a trip to a warm and sunny spot over the winter months, skip the tanning beds before you go and buy a nice hat and some light, long-sleeve cover ups. The jury is still out on the protective effects of sunscreens – it’s not clear whether some of the chemical ingredients they contain may promote skin cancer, and many people using these products spend more time in the sun, believing they are protected.
One final comment…some unprotected sun exposure is healthy (about 15 to 20 minutes a day) and delivers the best form of Vitamin D, but remember to take reasonable precautions. Stay away from tanning beds!