The "Pros" and Cons of Indoor Tanning
Peer Review Status: Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, Cancer Information Service
First Published: August 2004
Last Revised: August 2004
First off, there are no "pros" to indoor tanning! Recent research has found many reasons to completely avoid tanning booths.
- Tanning booths were found to be addictive in a study published in the July 2004 issue of American Academy of Dermatology. Those in the study were given tests to measure their mood, before and after tanning. The moods were better and relazation greater after the subjects had used the tanning beds with ultraviolet lights. Tanners were offered a choice of tanning beds. Ninety six percent of those in the study would pick the beds with ultraviolet lights, though they had no idea of the type of light in any of the tanning beds. Many would remark they relaxed better with a certain bed, which was always one with ultraviolet light.
- Studies indicated that the ultraviolet radiation levels to the eye could be over 100 times greater in the tanning booth than with outside sunlight. Corneal burns, cataracts, and occasionally retinal damage can occur. It is important to wear eye protection if using a tanning booth. Wearing sunglasses or keeping eyes closed is not sufficient.
- Another recent study suggests that like outdoor sun exposure, short term use of tanning booths can lead to the same molecular and genetic damage that can cause skin cancer and premature aging of the skin.
Most users of tanning booths feel that turning light skin darker makes them look healthy. In actuality, a suntan means the skin has been damaged. Melanin is a pigment in the skin that turns the skin darker. It is produced when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet radiation, to protect it from burning.
Facts about getting a "base tan" before vacationing in a sunny place are:
- Tanning booths have about 95% ultraviolet A light and 5% ultraviolet B light. Ultraviolet B has long been linked to sunburn and skin cancer, while ultraviolet A was associated more with aging of the skin. Recently ultraviolet A has been linked to skin cancer and genetic damage to the skin, as well.
- Getting a base tan for fear of sunburn is not encouraged.