How many people do you know who use a tanning bed? However many people you know to be using a tanning bed, you can bet that there are even more people using one than you would ever realize. Small businesses such as Laundromats or nail salons have added tanning beds as a way of generating more revenue. But, while the use and popularity of the tanning bed continues to grow, is it really safe to use or could you be increasing your risks for skin cancer?
Without question, UV radiation has been proven to cause skin cancer. There are two basic types of UV-Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB). UVB radiation is produced by the sun and responsible for the sunburns people get when outside for too long. A tanning bed uses UVA radiation which is considered less harmful than UVB but has still been shown to cause skin cancer. Both have been shown to cause skin cancer but it is agreed that UVA penetrates deeper into the skin than its UVB counterpart. This is how a tanning bed can produce suntans in so little time.
Aside from increased skin cancer risks, a tanning bed may also cause other problems for users. When constantly exposed to the UVA radiation of a tanning bed, the immune system may actually weaken over time. Naturally, this will lead to increased chances for illness. Also, it is not known if the damage to the immune system is reversible after a person ceases using a tanning bed. Research is still being conducted to answer this question.
Consistent use of a tanning bed may also cause damage to the skin itself. This is because a tanning bed will evaporate the moisture in our skin and cause it to dry out. In time, the skin will appear leathery and wrinkled. The effects of long-term tanning bed exposure to the skin are irreversible and there is still an increased chance of skin cancer developing later on down the road.
Supporters point out that people who sunburn easily should use a tanning bed because it will “pre-tan” the skin. The idea is that if a person goes and gets a tan from a tanning bed first, then their skin will not be as vulnerable to sunburn when playing outdoors. Actually, this is a very valid point but remember that both UVA and UVB radiation have been shown to cause skin cancer. So, while a tanning bed may reduce chances of sunburn, it may not decrease chances for skin cancer.
Despite the risks, no one can argue that the popularity of the tanning bed continues to grow. If for no other reason than mere convenience, the ability to get a tan in minutes and have healthier looking skin is too tempting for many to pass up. This is especially true today where people have less and less time to naturally tan. However, just remember that a tanning bed can and will damage your skin after prolonged exposure and skin cancer is still a very real possibility. But, when used in moderation, a tanning bed can indeed decrease your chances of sunburn and give you beautiful, tanned skin in mere minutes.