While most people are familiar with the dangers of spending too much time in the sun, some feel as though tanning beds are a safe way to gain an attractive tan, and may even think that there are some health benefits to using tanning beds. When deciding whether to tan in a tanning bed, it is important to remember the health risks as well as potential health benefits.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, tanning in a tanning bed increases your risk of cancer. Tanning beds have been associated with squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, which are skin cancers, as well as ocular melanoma, which is an eye cancer. Failure to wear goggles increases your risk of eye cancer.
Tanning bed use can cause a loss of elasticity in the skin, which leads to wrinkling. The UV rays that cause the skin to tan in a tanning bed also can cause eye problems such as cataracts and photoconjunctivitis. Excessive amounts of UV exposure can cause a drop in immunity, making the person more susceptible to becoming ill with infectious diseases.
People with fair skin are likely to burn in a tanning bed. Also, some people with sensitive skin may have an allergic reaction to the UV radiation and will experience a red, itchy rash. Those with darker skin also can burn and experience skin damage.
There is a possibility that the use of tanning beds can increase your vitamin D level. However, normal exposure to the sun as well as consuming vitamin D through the diet is preferable. Some people may benefit from the radiation from tanning beds. Those with dermatitis and psoriasis may find relief with medically supervised treatment with UV rays. Self-treatment at a commercial tanning bed, however, is not recommended.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Know the Risks of Indoor Tanning
- Dermatologic Therapy: Tanning Beds, Skin Cancer, and Vitamin D -- An Examination of the Scientific Evidence and Public Health Implications
- Pigment Cell and Melanoma Research: Are Tanning Beds "Safe"? Human Studies of Melanoma
- Journal of Clinial Oncology: Use of Tanning Beds and Incidence of Skin Cancer
Michelle Kulas worked in the health-care field for 10 years, serving as a certified nurses' assistant, dental assistant and dental insurance billing coordinator. Her areas of expertise include health and dental topics, parenting, nutrition, homeschooling and travel.