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Dangers With Tanning Beds

Updated on September 10, 2009

Side-effects of tanning beds

As the use of tanning beds increase, so are the health risks of those who patronize. While the industry continues operating with few guidelines, patrons of tanning beds continue exposing themselves to potentially hazardous conditions.

Tanning beds primarily use UVA light or radiation, which is considered safer than the combination of UVA and UVB light provided by the sun. However, consumers need to know more than the type of ultra-violet light used in beds.

According to research, UVA light penetrates the skin more deeply than UVB light; and, when provided by a tanning bed, there can be up to three times as much UVA delivered to the human body as delivered by the sun. Therefore, skin can be damaged much more quickly by tanning bed exposure than by sunlight. And, unlike the sun which only shines from above, tanning beds shine UVA light from many angles, exposing much more skin. And, some of the skin that is exposed to UVA light in a bed is more sensitive than the skin that is typically exposed to direct sunlight.

Not only is it important to know about the light used in tanning beds, it is also important to be aware of the side-effects to UVA light. UVA light has multiple health consequences from short-term effects such as redness, drying, and swelling of skin to more severe and long-term effects like wrinkles, sagging/ loose skin, and skin cancer (2005). It can also cause eye problems such as retinol damage, inflammatory diseases, and cataracts (2005). Research has also shown that the UVA exposure can also affect diseases such as lupus and diabetes while affecting medications such birth control pills, antihistamines, and antibiotics (2005).

After being greatly researched around the world, tanning beds are not safer than the sun or prevent side-effects that were once only related to the sun. Both have ultra-violet radiation that causes many side-effects. Therefore, the best way to prevent skin damage is to use sunscreen with a SPF 15 or higher and moderate sun exposure.


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