UV-Emitting Tanning Devices Carcinogenic to Humans

The American Cancer Society advises that use of a tanning bed before age 35 increases your risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent, and overexposure to ultraviolet radiation is thought to be the primary risk factor for most skin cancers.  

Indoor tanning beds deliver UV rays just as the sun does. High-pressure tanning bulbs can deliver as much as 15 times the UV radiation we receive from the sun, turning a 15-30 minute tanning bed session into the equivalent of an entire day at the beach.

Melanoma, the sixth most common cancer in men and the seventh in women (in the United States), is a type of skin cancer caused when skin is damaged by the harmful effects of the sun. It is more common in fair-skinned people. Survivors of melanoma must avoid the sun and are always at risk for developing more. 

Now the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified UV-emitting tanning devices as “carcinogenic to humans,” using the combined analysis of more than 20 studies to reach that conclusion. It also points to an increased risk of ocular melanoma from the use of tanning devices.

The World Health Organization recommends that consumers avoid sun lamps and tanning beds, as well as protecting yourself from over exposure to the sun.

Many states already have laws on the books with various restrictions regarding the use of tanning salons by minors, while other states have pending legislation. From the National Conference of State Legislatures: State by State Legislation of Tanning Salons.

It all comes down to personal choice — personal responsibility — for our own health and well being. Just as people choose to smoke knowing the dangers to their health, people will choose to use tanning devices. 

Whether this information will have any measurable impact on consumers, especially young consumers, remains to be seen. One would think that the perceived benefit of tanned skin would not outweigh the risk of often preventable forms of cancer. But the lure of the “healthy glow” is a powerful one.


Luciana Lemons
Luciana Lemons1 years ago

I'm Italian so I have never had a need or used Tanning beds. I think if they Continue the use of these Cancer Coffins you should have to be over 18 YO to use them. I recall my Dad pressuring my Fair skinned Mother to use them when they first came out & she would always get burned. Finally he stopped. As far as the comment about people needing sun for Vitamin production,etc. YES, Vitamin D is essential & natural is always best. However it only takes about a 1/2 Hr of Sun. SECOND, I'm 44 & I'm an Outdoors person especially in the Spring/Summer. I WAS TESTED THIS LAST JULY & MY "D" WAS VERY LOW. I WAS PRESCRIBED D3 50,000IU LIQUID TABS 1X A WEEK FOR 8 WEEKS & RETESTED. MY D WAS STILL LOW JUST NOT AS BAD. IT SEEMS THERE IS AN EPIDEMIC OF LOW D ESPEC. WITH WOMEN IN THE 40+ RANGE. IF YOU AVOID THE SUN & FALL IN THIS AGE BRACKET YOU SHOULD GET TESTED. THE OTHER OPTION IS TO JUST START TAKING D3 @ 5,000IU DAILY(LIQUID TABS ABSORB BETTER). IN ADDITION TAKE CALCIUM IN CONJUNCTION. THE D3 HELPS THE CALCIUM ABSORB SO THEY WORK TOGETHER. I have a medical background but you can research this yourself.

Jo S.
Jo S.1 years ago

They should be banned.
Thanks Ann.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

Crystal S.
Crystal S.6 years ago

Over doing ANYTHING is dangerous. Including avoiding the sun. Our bodies actually need the sun. It promotes a chemical reaction within our bodies that provides essential vitamins that keep us healthy and our bones strong. Someone with extremely fair skin needs far less time in the sun to meet their needs. Everyone's bodies vary in their needs quite a bit. A lack of sunlight, for many, can effect our metabolisms and help contribute to osteoporosis. As a person who is extremely small boned with a tendency to suffer from SAD during the darker months. I don't see anything wrong with very moderate use of tanning beds (max 10 minutes). Everything in moderation, folks. There is no one size fits all in this life.

Tara Berry
Tara Berry6 years ago

whatever, no one is perfect. we all do things that are "harmful' to ourselves. we all binge eat and have too much red wine or "organic" baked goods or spend $5000 for and organic bed when there are children who wont even get one christmas or birthday gift this year! who cares tan! if it makes u feel good go twice a week for ten mins. Be sensible! why dnt you go spend $200 at whole foods for a homeless shelter next christmas.. thats what i thought.

Rhianna Tibbetts
Rhianna T.7 years ago

this is so true i went to a tanning salon a hand full of times in high school when i had my 18th b day party my friend got us packages at the same salon for old times sake since she tanned so well to avoid being out tanned i went a couple of times alone the girl working was about 16 and she was new on the job but had training on their newrst 15 minute bed since she didnt feel confident running the older 30 minnute beds i opted for the new fast tan however she set the timer in hours not minutes after a long day of work and nursing school i fell asleep!! shifts changed and 3 houurs later i woke up due to a dream in the desert and feeling very sick, i had no idea how mush time had passed i hardly made it out to my car disorented since it was getting dark i figured wy saturn was doing its reset every thing and that the clock must be wrong i started to worry however when i stopped at the local drive thru and they were getting ready to lose i got ice tea and drank the large down in the 15 minute drive home i laid down for what seemed like a second and woke up in an ambulance thank god my friend broke in to make shure i was ok (i owned a house in north minneapolis and lived alone bad bad neighborhood ie i moved when the day i foud out i was pregnant i went to my house in broad daylight to find MPD with yellow tape police line do not cross and a chalked outline in my front yard and a van marked with the morgue address) so any way she called 911 and it must have been bad since i ha

Carol C.
Carol C.7 years ago

Why are these things still legal? My daughter-in-law bakes under one every spring until she can bake all day in the sun, I don't want them available for my granddaughters, shutdown the industry, NOW!