Artificial Tanning: Is it Worth it?

Post by Sidney W.

Photo by Gerlach

On August 1, 2014 a new law in Minnesota went into effect that banned indoor tanning to anyone under 18. It was the eighth state to do so following Vermont, California, Illinois, Oregon, Nevada, Texas and Washington. Governor Mark Dayton’s reasoning for signing this bill is to prevent skin cancer.

Links to Cancer

The New York Daily News states, “Each year, more than 2 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer. The risk for melanoma increases by 59% for those who partake in indoor tanning, and the risk amplifies with each subsequent visit.”

The Chicago Tribune also says, “Dermatologists and other supporters of the legislation say that tanning beds are linked to skin cancers, including melanoma, the most deadly kind and one of the most common cancers in young people. Yet the beds remain popular with teens.” Also in the same article Dr. Jerry Brewer refers to an earlier study by the University of Minnesota in which scientists found that people who used tanning beds were 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma.

So why is there so much controversy over the new law if it is scientifically proven that tanning beds lead to skin cancer?

Many believe that it is the parents decision and that states may have overstepped their bounds.

But if it is as harmful as everyone says it is shouldn’t the states be commended for their effort. They are trying to save billions of lives! One controversial question that has followed the new law is why would tanning beds be banned if they produce the same amount of UBV light as the sun. What many don’t know is that it’s the concentrated bursts of light that make it so dangerous.

Artificial Tanning vs. Natural Tanning

Oncosec is a company devoted to creating treatments for advanced-stage skin cancer, and in one of their articles they say, “The average tanning bed produces approximately the same amount of UBV light as the sun and upwards of three times the amount of UVA light. However, this is compounded by the fact that indoor tanning is in concentrated bursts. This causes faster mutations in the body, as the ultraviolet light changes the configuration of human DNA. While neither method of tanning is safe, the use of tanning beds and concentrated delivery of UV light are much more dangerous.”


Photo by Skitter Photo

Artificial tanning in young years also leads to an addiction that can lead to skin cancer in later years. Not only can it lead to skin cancer, it also leads to premature skin aging or photoaging which can cause the skin to wrinkle at an early age. Tanning is also a sign of DNA damage in the skin. Most already know this but continue to tan because it makes them feel good and look good but is it really worth the risk?

Some tanning salons claim that a “base layer tan” before going on vacation will prevent sunburn but that is not the case. This “base layer” is the equivalent of SPF 4 and you can still easily burn. Others say that tanning will give you essential Vitamin D but Vitamin D can be obtained through supplements that do not harm your skin at all or through what you eat.

Another addition to the new law is tanning salons now have to put a warning label that can clearly be seen that describes the risks and consequences of tanning beds.

Effects of indoor tanning:

  • melanoma (the deadliest type of skin cancer)
  • basal cell carcinoma
  • squamous cell carcinoma
  • Causes premature skin aging, like wrinkles and age spots
  • Changes your skin texture
  • Increases the risk of potentially blinding eye diseases, if eye protection is not used

I personally interviewed a few of my peers on the controversial subject…

Do you prefer tanning in a bed or tanning outside?

Definitely outside because of the fresh air and tanning in beds is too claustrophobic!

What do you think of the new artificial tanning law?

Not gonna be good for prom coming up.

Do you know anyone that has been diagnosed with skin cancer that has tanned in a bed before?

Yes two of my family friends have been diagnosed with skin cancer after spending numerous hours in a bed and outside in the sun.

With tanning beds the bulbs can also be altered so some beds emit more rays which can be more dangerous. Overall to reduce the risk of getting skin cancer artificial tanning should be all around avoided, and when in the sun sunscreen of SPF 40 or higher should be used. You can still get a tan while wearing sunscreen, and it will reduce the risk of getting burnt which we all know isn’t fun!

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