Friends Don’t Let Friends Use Tanning Beds
We recently took a look at some pretty frightening statistics related to skin cancer and tanning booth usage. ICYMI, the most startling fact was that the number of skin cancer cases due to indoor tanning is higher than the number of lung cancer cases due to smoking.
So why is it that nearly 10 million Americans still use tanning beds? Probably because they misunderstand exactly how UV radiation from tanning beds damages skin.
The tanning bed industry makes the claim that tanning beds are safe because the UV light in tanning beds is generally 90% or more UVA rays. They emit few UVB rays, the ones responsible for burning. The thinking is, if you don’t burn, you don’t damage DNA. If only that were true.
To be fair to the tanning industry, it was thought, for many years, that UVB rays were the ones responsible for skin cancer because they affect the top layers of skin where skin cancers appear. But studies over the last two decades have revealed that UVA rays, which have always been attributed with photoaging, also contribute to, and may even initiate, the development of skin cancers. That’s because UVA rays penetrate deeper to affect the keratinocyte skin cells in the basal layer of the epidermis, causing cumulative damage over time. The tan that UVA rays stimulate, is actually a mutation the skin employs in an attempt to protect itself from DNA damage. These mutations, over time, can form the genesis of skin cancers.
Additionally, the intensified sunlamps in tanning salons emit concentrated UVA doses that are up to 12 times what the thermonuclear ball of energy in the sky is delivering. That bears repeating. Up to twelve times the strength of the sun’s UVA rays.
No wonder people who use tanning salons are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma, and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. The bronzy glow just isn’t worth the risks or the wrinkles.
If the fear of skin cancer isn’t enough to deter you, there’s always this:
Wehner, MPhil Mackenzie R. "International Prevalence of Indoor Tanning." JAMA Dermatology. American Medical Association, 01 Apr. 2014. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.