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Tanning beds utilize bulbs that give off artificial light that results in a tanned appearance. While they may help a person achieve a darker tan, tanning beds have recently been under fire for being a known carcinogen--a cancer-causing agent. Before considering utilizing a tanning bed, it's important that you understand the risks associated with indoor tanning.


Tanning beds utilize bulbs that give off both UVA and UVB rays. You either stand or lie down in a tanning bed to be exposed to the bulbs. When the UVA rays hit the skin, they cause cells known as melanocytes to change color, resulting in the appearance of a tan, according to KidsHealth.org. However, if the skin is exposed to the lights for too long, the melanocytes cannot compensate for the radiation, and a sunburn results.


When used with the right timing, a tanning bed can make a person tanner in appearance. However, the long-term effects of tanning bed use may outweight the immediate benefits. Regular tanning bed usage can lead to the development of malignant melanomas and disfigurement from when skin cancers must be removed, according to the World Health Organization. Also, because a tanning bed's ultraviolet rays are closer to the skin, the result can be thinner skin--which can make it more difficult for skin to heal, according to the National Cancer Institute.


Tanning bed enthusiasts tout them as a way of achieving a golden glow year-round. Also, tanning bed bulbs help those tanning to achieve a tan faster than a person would if he were to expose his skin to the sun. Also, tanning beds provide a source of vitamin D, which is necessary for the body's functions, according to the World Health Organization. However, supplementation and diet also can provide vitamin D benefits.


Instead of utilizing a tanning bed to achieve a tan, DERMA Doctor recommends using a self-tanner, which can give you a golden brown appearance, yet does not result in the skin damage and skin cancers associated with utilizing a tanning bed. These creams can be purchased at most drugstores and discount superstores. In some instances, they also can moisturize the skin.


Those wishing to utilize a tanning booth have much to consider before stepping into the tanning bed. While more than 80 percent of those under 25 say they believe they have a better appearance with a tan, this attitude could result in a behavior that causes cancer, according to KidsHealth.org. In addition to skin cancer, those who utilize tanning beds also experience earlier signs of aging, including wrinkles and a skin texture that appears thick and leathery, according to DERMA Doctor.