October 26, 2014

View as List 6 Tanning Bed Myths

  •  6 Tanning Bed Myths

    Ultraviolet (UV) radiation—whether from sunlight or sunlamps—increases skin cancer risk; damage is cumulative. It also accelerates skin aging. So don’t believe the following claims made by the tanning bed industry.

  • 1

    Indoor tanning is safe

    Indoor tanning is not safer than tanning in the sun. It can produce harmful rays and lead to adverse effects. In fact, there is no “safe” way to tan. Even “low pressure” sunlamps and those that claim to provide “controlled” doses of ultraviolet (UV) are harmful. 

  • 2

    A base tan prevents sunburns

    Not so. The UV spectrum emitted from most sunlamps darkens skin primarily due to oxidation and redistribution of pre-existing melanin (the pigment in skin that absorbs UV); it has a minimal effect on the amount of melanin. The resulting tan is thus mostly cosmetic, not protective.

  • 3

    Indoor tanning is healthy for young people

    In an investigation by the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee in 2012, four out of five tanning salons made such false claims when contacted by people pretending to be fair-skinned teenage girls. Nearly all the salons denied the known health risks, with half denying that tanning increases skin cancer risk, calling that a “big myth,” “rumor” or “hype.”

  • 4

    Tanning beds provide vitamin D safely

    Some sunlamps can induce production of vitamin D, but as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states, “it is unclear whether the benefit of such production outweighs the risks of use.” Diet and supplements are a safe—and effective—way to get vitamin D.

  • 5

    Vitamin D from tanning beds prevents cancer

    Though vitamin D has been linked in many observational studies with reduced risk for some cancers (such as prostate, breast and colon), results have been inconsistent and don’t prove cause and effect. In any case, even if vitamin D has anti-cancer benefits, there are no studies indicating that it has to come from sunlight or sunlamps.

  • 6

    Tanning beds help seasonal affective disorder

    It’s true that bright (visible) light can have therapeutic effects on this mood disorder, but there’s no definitive evidence that UV (invisible) rays have the same benefit. In fact, special lamps designed to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) filter out most UV.