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Tanning Salons: What You Risk for That ‘Healthy Glow’

Tanning Salons: What You Risk for That ‘Healthy Glow’

If you’re like most people, you don’t want to show up at the beach or pool party looking like you spent your life in a flour sack. You want that glowing bronze-healthy tan. So you schedule a few hours a week at your local tanning salon to “brown up.” You’re not alone.  Indoor tanning has grown to a $5-billion-dollar industry. There are more tanning salons in an average city than Starbucks or McDonald’s. But are indoor tanning booths really safe?  Here are some sobering facts you might consider before you tan up with some “indoor rays.”

Bombarding You with UVA & UVB

Your typical tanning booth exposes your skin to ultraviolet (UV) A and B radiation. UVA rays penetrate your skin’s top layers and usually give you a sunburn. UVB rays penetrate deeper, causing rashes, wrinkles and “leatherized” skin as you get older.  Sadly, both UVA and UVB rays can cause skin cancer.  What tanning operators sometimes neglect to tell you is that the levels of UVA and UVB radiation exposure you get from their tanning booths can sometimes be higher than tanning directly from the sun.

Altering You Skin’s DNA

Several studies have shown that tanning booths can increase your risk of getting melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 75 percent. The truth is that UV radiation damages the DNA in skin cells, which can trigger such skin cancers as melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. It can also cause premature skin aging and even suppress your immune system. A recent meta-analysis published in 2014 by Colantonio and colleagues revealed that using tanning beds was linked with a subsequent melanoma diagnosis, and that exposure from more than 10 tanning sessions was most strongly associated with these diagnoses. What’s more, there was no statistically significant difference between the use of newer and older tanning technologies.

400,000 Cases of Skin Cancer Annually

A 2014 study by Wehner and colleagues estimates that more than 410,000 non-melanoma skin cancer cases and more than 10,0000 melanoma-related skin cancer cases may be linked to indoor tanning in the U.S., Australia and Europe each year. It’s no wonder most dermatologists discourage the use of tanning salons, and why the World Health Organization classified tanning beds as a definite cancer risk.

Opt for Tanning Creams

Sunless tanning creams or self-tanners can give you a tanned look without exposing you to harmful UV rays. Sold as lotions or sprays, the active ingredient in these is the color additive dihydroxyacetone, which reacts with dead, surface skin cells to temporarily darken the skin. The coloring typically wears off after a few days, but these sunless tanning products are generally considered a safe alternative to direct sunlight or tanning booths if used as directed.

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Alex A. Kecskes

As owner/president of AK CreativeWorks, Alex A. Kecskes is a national award-winning writer/blogger/journalist who has written over 2,000 published articles on health/fitness, "green" issues, careers, consumer tech, arts/entertainment and many other topics. He also writes web content, ads, brochures, sales letters, mailers and scripts for national B2B and B2C clients. Follow Alex on twitter at


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6:52AM PDT on Aug 21, 2014

Many thanks!

1:57AM PDT on Aug 20, 2014

After a few highlighted cases of young women in Australia dying from melanomas from frequenting solariums, many states here have banned them totally. There has been so much publicity here about the dangers that most people just get spray tans these days. Solariums are a thing of a past era.

11:03PM PDT on Aug 19, 2014

Thanks for sharing!!

9:41PM PDT on Aug 19, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

9:28PM PDT on Aug 19, 2014

The last article I read was about people wanting to lighten their skin. It all seems silly to me.

9:20PM PDT on Aug 19, 2014

Healthy glow - like Fukushima?

8:19PM PDT on Aug 19, 2014

I'm fair skinned and I wouldn't use a tanning bed.

10:29AM PDT on Aug 19, 2014

Unfortunately for me, I used them for years when they first hit the scene and am now a mess from hitting the electric beach so I looked tan going to the pool. What a fool I was and now suffer the consequences. I should be a poster idiot and show what can happen if you live long enough and consider this a beauty regimen.

6:49AM PDT on Aug 19, 2014

Thanks Alex for info.

5:55AM PDT on Aug 19, 2014

Don't understand why people can't just accept their skin color. It upsets me that people put their health at risk just for beauty.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Good to know. Thank you.


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