Tanning Bed Risks

Education, Home & Family
on February 9, 2013

Tanning beds have been popular with consumers for a number of years. A tanning bed is a popular way to keep up your tan between vacations or to maintain a better color if you live in a non-sunny location. The risks of using these devices have become better known in recent years, however, and now there are a number of warnings for consumers who may be interested in using a tanning bed. Learn more about the five key risks:

About ultraviolet radiation. A suntan occurs when skin reacts to exposure to ultraviolet rays. When bombarded with UV, the skin reacts by producing more melanin, which is actually a defense mechanism. By making the skin darker, the melanin prevents further damage. There are two types of UV radiation: UV-B and UV-A rays. UV-B rays penetrate the top layer of skin and are most commonly responsible for sunburn. UV-A rays penetrate the lower skin. Tanning beds may use both types of UV.

Skin cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, exposure to UV radiation increases the risk of developing skin cancer. The deadliest form of skin cancer is known as melanoma, and research has shown that there is a link between melanoma and severe sunburn, particularly in children. In 2009, the World Health Organization concluded that the risk from the UV rays emitted by tanning beds was higher than previously thought. The International Agency for Research on Cancer moved tanning beds into the highest cancer risk category, “carcinogenic to humans.”

Premature aging. The use of sun beds causes the skin to lose its natural elasticity. This means you will wrinkle prematurely. You can see this effect in elderly people that have lived in very hot climates for many years, as they are much more wrinkly than those in cooler climates.

Damage to the eyes. The UV radiation from a tanning bed can damage the human eye. Tanning bed users should always use eye protection.

Damage to immune system. UV-B radiation has been proven to hinder the immune system, which can leave you more vulnerable to other diseases.

Allergic reaction. Some people also develop an allergic reaction to UV radiation, which can result in an itchy rash. This is particularly the case when the tanning bed uses UV-B rays.