You might have heard about the dangers of indoor tanning but disregarded them. Maybe you don’t do it yourself or maybe you think the risks are overstated.
When everyone started blaming the sun for all skin cancer, there was an explosion of indoor tanning that marketed their products as safer than going outside. We now know for a scientific fact that this is incorrect but the tanning industry continues to grow and grow.
It’s Just Pampering – No Big Deal
Affectionately referred to as “fake bake,” indoor tanning is a multi-billion-dollar industry. It’s fun to “go tanning” with your friends and enjoy the “glow” as you enjoy lunch together afterward on a lazy day off.
Just one of those things (primarily) women do to pamper themselves.
The salons and gyms across the country who offer tanning beds as part of their amenities don’t explain the risks to their clients in ways that will deter them from doing it.
You might sign a form (you don’t have time to read) or there may be small postings in the tanning room (that are boring enough to keep you from looking too closely).
The profit is simply too lucrative.
It’s a little thing, fun to do, and completely harmless, right? Wrong. The dangers of indoor tanning have been well documented.
Indoor tanning was declared a known carcinogen by the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
Skin cancer will affect 1-in-5 people in their lifetimes. There are more than 3 million new cases every year (more than breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancers combined).Skin cancer will affect 1-in-5 people in their lifetimes. #skincancerfacts #skincancer #tanningClick To Tweet
Now, the survival rate is better with non-melanoma skin cancer than all other cancer types but once you get one cancerous spot, your risk of getting a second one is much higher. Some people are at much higher risk for skin cancer than others. Take a look at the risk factors below…
Primary Risk Factors for Skin Cancer
- Fair skin, light eye color, hair that is blonde or red
- Sunburns that are considered “severe” (a single blistering burn doubles your risk)
- Sunburns that are considered “mild” (5 such burns double your risk)
- Immediate family or personal history of skin cancer
- Above average sun exposure (recreational or professional)
- Regular tanning (in sunlight or tanning beds)
- High altitudes (UV exposure increases 4% per 1000 feet above sea level)
- Warm or sunny climates (year-round UV exposure)
- Radiation exposure (acne and eczema treatments)
- Compromised immune system (HIV or organ transplant recipients)
- Lots of moles on your skin (dysplastic nevi)
- Drugs that increase photosensitivity (sunlight can cause an allergic reaction) – such as over-the-counter or prescription medications for allergy, pain relief, antibiotics, diuretics, acne creams, malaria, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer therapies.
One of the biggest dangers of indoor tanning is their targeted demographic. This has been the source of many studies, legislation, public service announcements, and even new laws being written into place to protect the vulnerable. Remember the first risk factor? Fair skin, light eye color, hair that is blonde or red?
The tanning industry focuses their marketing on one group more than any other and it pays off.
More than 70% of customers using tanning services are Caucasian females between the ages of 16 and 29. Of the 30 million people who use tanning beds regularly every year (1 million people are tanning every day), approximately 2 million of them are teenagers.
On your first tanning session, your risk of skin cancer jumps to 59% – and steadily climbs with each visit after that.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that tanning beds are directly responsible for more than 450,000 new cases of non-melanoma cancer and 10,000 new cases of melanoma cancer in the United States, Australia, and Europe annually.More than 10,000 new cases of melanoma cancer have been linked to tanning beds. #skincancerClick To Tweet
They stated in their conclusion that, “Exposure to indoor tanning is common in Western countries, especially among young persons. Given the large number of skin cancer cases attributable to indoor tanning, these findings highlight a major public health issue.”
There are a few states that passed laws preventing minors (those under age 18) from using tanning beds but most don’t regulate the industry at all.
Another study cited by the American Academy of Dermatology discovered that tanning can actually become addictive for the user – tanning despite financial or health concerns. As a result, they placed several public announcements warning about the dangers of indoor tanning on their website.
One of them cautions, “Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is the second most common cancer in young adults 15 to 29 years old and the leading cause of cancer death in women 25 to 30 years old…tanning only makes them more at risk for things like wrinkles, age spots and skin cancer.”
Another segment states, “Indoor tanning results in rapid skin aging, immune disorders, and severe eye conditions such as cataracts (clouding of the lens in the eye) and ocular melanoma (cancer of the eye).
Tanning beds aren’t going away anytime soon. However, if you use them or know someone who does (particularly young women), consider the dangers of indoor tanning carefully before you climb inside that bed.
A few decades ago, someone thought, “I’ll put intense UV lights a foot from a customer’s body so they can get an awesome tan!”
The industry profit margins are indeed awesome. The effect on the health of women (and men) everywhere…not so much.
Everyone can get skin cancer on any location of the body. The fact remains that the highest risk group are Caucasians with fair skin, light eyes, and light hair.
Indoor tanning is dangerous for your skin and may even be addictive. Shortcutting nature is never a good idea and an even, golden tan isn’t worth the risk.Indoor tanning is dangerous for your skin and may even be addictive. #dangersofskincancerClick To Tweet