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The truth about tanning beds


Did you know that tanning salons outnumber Starbucks and McDonalds in some of the largest American cities? It’s a scary sign of the times. With 30 million people indoor tanning every year, and about 70 percent of those being young women, it’s absolutely vital to know the facts, and keep your skin protected at all times with a broad spectrum sunscreen. Indoor tanning is not only dangerous – it’s deadly:

  • People who use indoor tanning beds are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors.*
  • People who use indoor tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.*
  • 2.3 million of the 30 million people who tan indoors in the U.S. every year are teens.*
  • Like Tan Mom/Like Tan Daughter: According to, a recent indoor tanning study showed that children of women who tan indoors are more likely to be indoor tanners themselves. The study found that young women whose first indoor tanning experience is with their mothers are more than 4.6 times more likely to become heavy tanners themselves.
  • Ten minutes in a tanning bed matches the cancer-causing effects of 10 minutes in the Mediterranean summer sun.*
  • The International Agency for Research on Cancer has recently shifted indoor tanning beds to the highest cancer risk category: “carcinogenic to humans.” (They were formerly classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”)**

Have you ever used a tanning bed? Are you a former user who has switched to self-tanning or embraced a “no tan” look? Share your story in the comments!

* Source: American Academy of Dermatology

** Source: The International Agency for Research on Cancer

Comments (6)

Tina says:
Jun 18, 2012

I am one on those women who has developed squamous cell carcinoma. At the age of 46, I have had one tumor removed from the left side of my cheek, 15 stitches, not attractive. Recently, another pre-cancerous lesion removed as well. I still remeber when I was 26 years old, sitting in the doctors office next to an older mature woman in her 50s. She made note of my dark tan and began to warn me on the dangers of tanning, since she had had numerous tumor removed from all over her body, which she attributed to tanning indoors. Of course, I’m sitting there thinking “that isn’t going to be me”. I’m not quite sure why, we have that mentality but we all do, and 21 years later, I am that woman preaching to young women the dangers of tanning.

    Barbara Salomone says:
    Jun 19, 2012

    Tina – Thanks so much for sharing your story. It’s true – we all believe we are invincible when we are young. (I know I thought I was!) Keep preaching to young women about the dangers – it’s good to know you are out there. My best wishes for good health to you.

Whitney says:
Jun 21, 2012

I occasionally go to the tanning bed,but this article has changed my thoughts on that! Thank you for putting this in my face, as I needed the harsh reality!

I’ll stick to spray tanning for a safer glow! 🙂

Stacia says:
Jun 23, 2012

I am so scared of tanning beds and how horrible they are for your skin. I spray tan instead. The technology has advanced on spray tanning so much and now they look completely natural. I get compliments on my tan constantly! Yes it is a bit more costly then a tanning bed but in the long run it saves alot!

Beth says:
Aug 25, 2012

Barbara, I feel ridiculous even asking this question. However, is there any truth behind tanning beds being good for acne or eczema?
I’ve had nurses and cosmetologists suggest this. What are your thoughts? I’d like to set the record straight! Thank you.

    Barbara Salomone says:
    Aug 27, 2012

    Beth – this is an excellent question! It is a complete misconception that tanning beds – or any UV exposure – is good for acne or excema. Many people feel that tanning can improve their skin because it can temporarily dry up surface oil and mask redness. However, despite these temporary results (and yes, they are only temporary) – UV exposure only weakens and damages skin, significantly increasing the likelihood that it will be left with red, brown or black pigment marks where skin tried to protect itself from the UV rays. In addition, ultraviolet light will only increase the risk of skin cancer and early aging of the skin.

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