What are the risks of UV tanning beds?

While many adults look at tanned skin as a sign of health, it’s really not. Tanning is an activity that significantly increases a patient’s exposure to harmful UVA and UVB rays. This exposure will also increase one’s risk of developing skin cancer down the road, while also leading to prematurely aged skin and photodamage. Unfortunately, many people believe that tanning in a tanning bed is safer, but this isn’t the case.

Understanding tanning beds

Tanning beds are developed to replicate the sun, which in turn, replicates what the sun does to the skin. It emits UV rays that are used to darken the skin, resulting in the “sun kissed glow” patients are looking for. The tan that results from these activities is actually the body protecting itself by increasing melanin, the natural pigmentation that causes darkening of the skin.

Know your risk

Anytime spent outdoors in the sun without protection puts an individual at risk of developing skin cancer later on in life, as affirmed by the National Cancer Institute. Tannings beds are just another way of UV exposure to occur, and continues to be “carcinogenic to humans” as defined by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, or the IARC. Additionally, UV-emitting tanning devices can also increase risk of ocular melanoma, or cancer of the eye. The risk of melanoma skin cancer increases by 75% in those who use tanning beds before the age of 35—a scary statistic backed by years of evidence and scientific proof.

Alternatives

Instead of using tanning beds or tanning in the sun, patients are encouraged to utilize alternative options such as tannin lotions which can darken the skin without any UV exposure. This includes spray tan options which do not impact one’s cancer risks.

Discuss your risk of skin cancer and schedule your first annual screening today

Call Harris Dermatology to work with our doctors and learn more about the activities you may be participating in that can increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Drs. Brian Harris, Ross Harris, and Keith Harris are available to assist patients in the areas of Fort Myers and Naples, FL and welcome new patients into their state-of-the-art medical facility.

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