Love Tanning? You Are Inviting Cancer

Stay Away From Tanning If You Want to Stay Away From Cancer!

TanningWe all love tanning and know that exposure to the sun has important benefits as it is essential for the synthesis of Vitamin D but overexposure to sun, as it is a fashion to do, have dangers associated with it including exposure to the harmful UV radiation of the sun.

During the tanning process, the exposure to UV A and UV B radiation may cause oxidation of melanin, redistribution of melanin pigments in the skin and increase production of melanin in the skin, leading to the consequent darkening of the skin. UV A exposure causes mild darkening while UV B exposure is required for intensive darkening.

UV A is harmful as it causes skin cancer while one of the effects of UV B exposure is skin aging. Some of the dangerous effects of exposer to UV radiation are light induced photodamage, immunosuppression, mutations, damage to DNA, rapid ageing of skin and carcinogenesis

People have resorted to using alternatives to sun bathing, as many times it is not possible to lie in the sun regularly. These include use of sun tan lotions, chemicals, dyes in the form of lotions, gels, dyes and spray tanning. One such alternative has been the use of tanning beds.

Types of Tanning Beds

TanningA sun tan bed or a tanning bed is a contraption, which uses the UV radiation to create a tan on your body. This device has a set of several lamps which will create a mixture of UV A and B radiation in the proportion of 97 % UV A and 3 % UV B radiation and generate it in a fashion similar to the sun rays (phosphor blends) and you can choose different kinds of devices based on the intensity of the tan you desire.

Tanning beds of a smaller size can be used in homes while that of a larger scale are used in salons. The latter would require at least 24-60 bulbs each with 100-200 W. One can choose to use higher intensity tanning machines, if you want a stronger and more intense tanning treatment. These machines would use higher quality lamps such as quartz lamps. You can choose to go to tanning booths, if you do not want to lie down and get tanned. Tanning beds were first introduced in the US in 1979.

How Does a Tanning Bed Function?

When you decide to try out a tanning bed, you have many things to decide from. The normal tanning bed would tan you under low pressure of light and this simulates the natural sunlight. Such beds produce quick tan but they are also liable to cause maximum son burn and hence if you have sensitive skin, this bed may not be the right option for you. The high pressure tanning beds are more expensive. The tanning takes longer and this involves mainly the UV A radiation. If you don’t want to lie down and get tanned because of discomfort of being placed inside the tanning instrument, you can choose to stand and get tanned.

Dangers of Tanning

Now that sounds good and comfortable for you as well as it guarantees a beautiful brown body, doesn’t it? Well it ain’t. In fact getting a skin tan is not a healthy thing to do but is actually a sign of skin damage. And the heavier your skin tan, the more damaged your skin is. This is what our glamour industry which thrives on circulating tanned pictures of celebrities around, fails to mention. The production of the tan is a defence response of the skin to the exposure to the sun, by producing more of the photoprtective pigment melanin. Melanin is a an absorber of UV radiation , is an anti oxidant and has radical scavenging ability. Melanin darkens the skin and after some time, it can lead to skin cancer, if the exposure to tanning continues. So one can imagine the damage done when you use artificial sources of light to tan the skin.

What does FDA say about Tanning Beds?

TanningWell, it is definitely not safe as far as your health is concerned. Scientists and WHO confirm that usage of these devices leads to increased skin cancer, skin aging, wrinkling and so on. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a wing of the WHO, has declared it amongst the most dangerous devices, which emits cancer causing radiation.

In fact FDA now requires warning labels to be placed on the sunlamps and tanning salons, warning children under 18 years from using it as well as had made it necessary for those promoting these things, to include warnings about cancer and the necessity for cancer checks in their material. Amongst their most critical results have been:

1. Use of tanning beds before the age of 30 increases the chances of melanoma by 75%, a huge percentage and melanoma is the deadliest form known. What is more, excess sun tanning, regardless of how you do it can lead to skin melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. The younger you are when you get exposed to tanning, the higher the chances of your getting melanoma.

2. There is an increased incidence of the melanomas of the skin and eyes when using indoor tanning beds.

3. Usage of these beds also increases chances of carcinomas

Use of tanning devices can also create ugly colour changes in your skin and affect the quality of skin proteins like collagen and elastin in a negative way.

It also warned about the dangers of youngsters flocking to unscrupulous salons which propagate the use of these devices in the name of obtaining bronzed skin. So think again, which would you want? Glamorous, sexy skin which probably covers a cancerous and dying inside or a normal but healthy skin which covers a wholesome body and soul?

Image source:

Corbis Images

Tristanb at the English language Wikipedia (], via Wikimedia Commons


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