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Are tanning beds safe for me?

Susan Evans
Dermatology
Tanning beds are not safe. Both UVA and UVB rays cause cancer. Tanning beds often exceed “safe” UV limits, despite the claims of the salon. Teens are at special risk because their bodies are undergoing such accelerated growth rates that their cells are more prone to the damage of the UV radiation. By routinely tanning their skin starting at a young age, teens put themselves at greater lifetime risk of developing skin cancer. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to get a sunburn in a tanning bed, and your eyes are at an increased risk of developing cataracts and corneal burns.

Tanning beds not only inflict the same type of skin and eye damage as the sun, but their rays are also stronger than natural sunlight. Tanning beds typically use UVA rays. Although UVA rays are milder than UVB rays -- the main cause of sunburn and sun cancer -- UVA wavelengths are longer, and they penetrate deeper through the skin's layers. UVA rays contribute to wrinkling the skin, as well as to the development of skin cancer. Some diseases, such as discoid or systemic lupus, and some oral medications, such as those containing sulfur, are aggravated by light exposure, especially in the UVA range. Regular tanning bed use, especially in teenagers, may increase the risk of melanoma up to 75%.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.