So you think you want to head to the tanning bed to get a bit of glow before your beach vacation? We’d be remiss if we allowed you to go in there alone and uninformed. The list below will at least help to rectify the latter with some sobering facts about the risks of a good tan.
1) There are more young people with skin cancer than any other type of cancer. Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, is the most common form of cancer for young adults ages 25 to 29, and the second most common form of cancer for adolescents and young adults ages 15 to 29.
2) Tanning bed use increases risk of skin cancer over time. Melanoma is increasing faster in females 15 to 29 years old, compared to males of the same age group, and the association with indoor tanning beds is clear. The risk of developing Melanoma increased by 59 percent for individuals who have been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning, and the risk increases with each use.
3) Nearly five million people are treated for skin cancer every year in the United States. And the number of new skin cancers continues to rise. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, more than 419,000 of these skin cancers are linked to indoor tanning.
4) The FDA doesn’t want you using a tanning bed. The FDA has been working to strengthen restriction on indoor tanning devices, providing strong recommendations against the use of tanning beds by minors under the age of 18, reclassifying sunlamps and tanning beds to Class II level devices (such as x-ray machines), and requiring labeling that clearly communicates the risk of skin cancer to all users.
5) Tanning beds are the new cigarettes. Science eventually proved that cigarettes cause lung cancer, and science now decidedly shows that tanning beds cause skin cancer. If you don’t smoke for your health, don’t tan either.
Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi is a board-certified dermatologist and co-director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Surgery.