Indoor Tanning is Risky Business

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Filed Under: General Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Indoor Tanning is Risky Business

With the winter months approaching, I know that many of you may turn to tanning beds to keep that healthy glow in your skin. Or maybe you like them for the “light therapy” they provide during months when days are short. Well, before you expose yourself to those UV lights, you may want to know the health risks you are taking.

As sun phobic whose exposure-avoidance didn’t totally prevent the familial tendency to develop skin cancer, I always want to know the pros and cons for my lifestyle choices. So, here are some stats on indoor tanning that you should know about, should you enjoy the winter mood boost they can provide as much as my own wife used to.

  • 17,000 cases of skin cancer annually are attributed to indoor tanning, according to the British Medical Journal,
  • Indoor tanners are 67% more likely to develop squamous-cell carcinoma, a more serious form of basal-cell cancer,
  • Indoor tanning is most likely responsible for about 5% of non-melanoma skin cancers, which strike one in five Americans in their lifetime,
  • Those who start indoor tanning before age 25 have the highest skin cancer risk according to a six-country study involving 80,000 people
  • The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies UV radiation from tanning beds as a Class 1 carcinogen, right up there with tobacco smoke and asbestos,
  • There is research linking indoor tanning with malignant melanoma, the deadliest kind.

What’s also important to remember is that “indoor tanners” include anyone who has ever engaged in indoor tanning, not just current users.

While the two most common types of cancer—squamous cell and basal cell—may not necessarily be life-threatening, the risk isn’t worth it. Also, if you’re thinking the UV exposure of indoor tanning may be boosting your vitamin D levels, the research shows the health benefits of vitamin D supplementation does not extend to indoor tanning.

To me, the risks of indoor tanning far outweigh the potential benefits. It’s like playing Russian roulette with your health.

Now it’s your turn: Do you worry about skin cancer?

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