Tanning beds are dangerous to your health
It’s mid-winter, and that’s when tanning beds are most popular.
Either people want a little artificial sunshine to help them cope with the weather, or they’re heading off on a tropical holiday and want a bit of color before they go.
But be warned: Tanning beds not only increase your risk of melanoma, they also increase the likelihood of a recurrence.
…tanning beds account for as many as 400,000 cases of skin cancer in the United States each year, including 6,000 cases of melanoma, the deadliest form.
Most disturbing is that it’s young women, even as young as 12 or 13, who are using tanning beds and putting themselves at risk.
Young people are especially at risk
Many states have put age limits and other restrictions on tanning beds, but I know parents who still allow their teenage daughters to use them.
Not only do arUVR cause melanoma, they increase the risk of recurrence. A recent study found melanoma survivors who used tanning beds were significantly more likely to suffer another melanoma, and more quickly, than those who did not use tanning beds.
One third of the study’s participants were under the age of 40, and most were women. Of those, almost half admitted to using tanning beds at some point in their lives.
Overall, the probability of tanning bed use was highest among patients with melanoma diagnoses at earlier ages (40 or younger)…
Embrace the beauty of pale skin
The authors of the study also raised the possibility that more fair-skinned women use tanning beds, and fair-skinned women are already more at risk of developing skin cancer or melanoma.
…tanning bed use is a strong driver of melanoma risk, as there is still a strong cultural drive for young, fair-skinned females, to arrive at a big social event sporting a deep tan, for which they have spent expensive sessions in a tanning salon acquiring.
Dermatologists have long been making an effort to promote “paleness” as the new beauty standard, but “this is a really tough cultural shift to make because people still believe they look better when they are tanned.”
I believe we need more public education about the risks of tanning beds and melanomas. Parents need more information, too, about the harms so they don’t give permission for children under the age of 18 to expose themselves to arUVR.
And we can contact our state lawmakers to require tougher restrictions and health warnings be placed on tanning bed use.
For more information on tanning beds, skin cancer and melanoma, check out one of my previous posts.
- Melanoma—Prevention and detection
- Skin cancer prevention tips
- Tanning beds and skin cancer
- How to choose the best sunscreen
- What sun damage looks like