We know that the sun is bad for your skin. In fact, it is the number one cause for the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma. As a result, many people, especially teens and young women, have turned to tanning beds in hopes of getting a tan and avoiding the harmful rays of the sun. Jodi Ganz, M.D., a dermatologist at Piedmont Hospital, discussed if tanning beds are just as harmful.
If you thought you were safe getting that year-round summer glow by hitting the tanning salon, think again. Piedmont Hospital dermatologist Jodi Ganz warns thattanning beds are actually more dangerous than the sun. They are so harmful that the World Health Organization has classified tanning beds as a carcinogen.
Dr. Ganz explains that the sun produces both UVA and UVB rays. The UVA rays cause aging and wrinkles and are the culprits in causing melanomas. The UVB rays are the ones that cause the skin to tan and even burn. So, when tanning salons claim that tanning beds do not have the burning rays of the sun, they are saying tanning beds do not use UVB rays.
Instead, they use 10 to 15 times the amount of UVA rays - the rays that speed up the tanning process, but also cause melanomas. Getting a tan from a tanning salon can be very quick and convenient. In some cities there are more tanning salons than there are Starbucks. This is not necessarily a good thing.
According to Dr. Ganz, “Not a week goes by that I don't see cancer on a 20-year old." For those who want a safe alternative to using the tanning bed, Dr. Ganz recommendstanning sprays or lotions. "These are safe and will give you a tan that lasts about a week." The American Academy of Pediatrics is so concerned about the harmful effects of not only the sun, but also tanning beds, that they recently published strong guidelines for parents and pediatricians to aid in skin cancer prevention.
The bottom line is that you need to protect yourself from harmful UVA rays - use sunscreen when you are out in the sun, and if you absolutely must have that tan, use tanning sprays or lotions.