The Relationship Between Tanning Salons and Skin Cancer

November 12, 2012

The Relationship Between Tanning Salons and Skin Cancer

About 50% of American adults will be diagnosed with skin cancer each year. Much study has been done by the medical community to reduce this startling statistic. They insist that some skin cancers are preventable provided that people, especially those with light skin, take steps to protect themselves from harmful sunlight radiation.

But the current fad to use tanning salons may be lethal, warns the American Academy of Dermatology. Tanning salon use has been linked to cataracts, premature skin aging and especially skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinomas and melanomas. Some young women have even become tanning addicts, spending hours a day under the sun or in salons in order to achieve that perfect tan.

What’s the Problem?

The problem tanning beds found in tanning salons are with the amount of radiation emitted from the lights. Ultra-violet lights, which mimic sunlight, produce two types of radiation, called UVA and UVB radiation. Most tanning beds and booths emit more UVA than UVB radiation, but the results are the same – skin damage.

When skin is continually damaged over a long amount of time, whether it’s sunburn or from over-use of artificial tanning equipment, the skin cannot heal itself fast enough and begins to grow lumps and bumps that often turn out to be cancerous. According to the National Cancer Institute, even if a woman uses a tanning salon just once a month, she increases her chances getting skin cancer by a staggering 55%.

What About Vitamin D?

The artificial tanning industry has increased greatly since 1992 and is not about to lose their new customers without a fight. Despite the findings of numerous clinical studies that using tanning salons can lead to skin cancer, the Indoor Tanning Association argues that tanning equipment emits healthy UVB rays that stimulate the body to produce crucially needed Vitamin D.

There are much safer ways to get needed Vitamin D, especially when it is combined with foods or beverages containing calcium. Although sunlight also emits UVB rays, a person only needs a tiny amount of exposure to these rays in order to stimulate the body to make enough Vitamin D. Using a tanning bed for 20 minutes gives a person about six times more UVB rays than is necessary.

Laws Under Consideration

Since 2007, American states and cities have been debating whether to outlaw tanning beds or shut down tanning salons. Some proposed laws would keep tanning salons open – but not to anyone under 18. Several states such as California have managed to pass these laws and salons are helping to enforce the rules by insisting on seeing ID from any customer suspected of being underage. Many people argue that tanning is a choice and that people should be able to do what they want to their bodies, including increasing their risks for skin cancer. Some local areas have added taxes to tanning sessions to make them less attractive to young customers.

Some tanning salon owners are limiting how many times customers can use their equipment. Some will only allow customers once a week and some once a month. However, this does not stop tanning addicts from finding another salon or even driving out of state to get their deadly fix.

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