A photo of a melanoma wound on a person's back.

Don’t Fall for the Tanning Bed Hype

Last updated: April 2022

I can always tell when spring break time gets closer. Do you know how I can tell? Because every morning as I’m getting ready for work, I hear a commercial on the radio advertising a tanning salon.

The promises the make sound quite enticing:

  • With a beautiful glow, you can be your sunny social self!
  • Get a tan and let yourself shine!
  • Get your glow on - look amazing and feel fantastic!

They even offer sales

And if those promises aren’t enough, they throw in crazy offers to get people in the door, like one I heard of paying only one dollar and tanning free for a month! Who can resist that offer? Well, I hope everyone does.

Tanning salons are a big business at our expense

Tanning salons are a big business, no doubt about it. And, unfortunately, many people still frequent tanning salons. Tanning salons are estimated to bring in approximately $3.9 billion in income in 2022.

Tanning is harmful: plain and simple

And this, my friends is not good news. While some people may think they look better and feel better with a tan, the truth is that tanning is harmful. Using a tanning bed exposes people to UV rays. UV rays have been proven to cause basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, according to The Skin Cancer Foundation, and UV rays have been proven to play a strong role in the development of melanoma.

Skin cancer is far too common

Think your chances of getting skin cancer aren’t that great? Think again, because more people develop skin cancer from tanning than develop lung cancer from smoking. Skin cancer does not discriminate. It doesn’t care if you’re young, or if you have a darker skin tone. It’s not just something that affects older people, or people who have lighter skin tones, blue eyes, or freckles. Anyone can get skin cancer.

Consider these facts from The Skin Cancer Foundation:

  • In the US alone, 419,254 cases of skin cancer can be attributed to indoor tanning.
  • Melanoma is the second most common cancer in females age 15-29.
  • Melanoma is the most common cancer in females aged 25-29.
  • Melanoma is the leading cause of cancer death in women 25-29 years old.
  • The amount of radiation produced during indoor tanning is similar to that of the sun, and in some cases can be stronger.
  • Indoor tanning before age 35 can increase your risk of melanoma by 59%; and the risk increases with each use.
  • Occasional use of tanning beds triples your chances of getting melanoma.
  • Tanning is so dangerous that several countries have made it illegal.

Healthy tan? That's not a thing

There is no such thing as a “healthy” tan. Damage to your skin starts from your very first tan. Even if you’re fortunate enough to not get skin cancer, there’s a good chance you’re going to end up with premature aging of your skin, wrinkles, sunspots, and leathery skin. And if you do get skin cancer, keep in mind that it can be disfiguring. Surgeries to remove skin cancer can leave your looks permanently altered.

So is it really worth it to have a fake tan glow? The answer is no! Bottom line: there is no good time of the year to go to a tanning bed.

What do you say to the people in your life that still use tanning beds?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The SkinCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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