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Tanning Beds - Not A Safe Tanning Alternative

Updated on June 8, 2012


We all know that the sun has harmful UVA and UVB rays that we should avoid. We wear sunscreen and cover-up when going out doors. All in an effort to reduce the risk of skin cancer or melanoma.

Yet, many people still go to great lengths to achieve that bronzed skin tone that tanning creates. Young people especially, ignore the warnings and bathe in the sun while others simply head to the tanning booths - but are tanning booths a safe alternative?

Doctors will be the first to tell you that there is no such thing as a safe tan. When your skin darkens it is reacting to the damaging effects of UVA and UVB rays. If the damage is severe enough then the possibility of a sunburn and even skin cancer is increased.

Tanning beds work on the same principle as the sun - by exposing the naked skin to concentrated amounts of ultra violet rays (often as much as 12 times the concentration of the sun' solar rays). This exposure triggers the skins natural 'repair' response and results in a darkening of the skin.

The risk of developing cancer from UV radiation is greatest in people under the age of 30 - probably because this is the group that is most often found tanning. Melanoma (skin cancer) is credited as the most common type of cancer killing people in this demographic today.

There is now, conclusive results that prove tanning beds and tanning lamps are a carcinogen (known to cause cancer). In fact tanning beds and lamps have been placed in the same class as smoking tobacco for cancer causing risk.

It's a sad state we are in when young people know the risks and choose to expose themselves anyway - all in the name of fashion. This is probably a direct result of TV and magazines promoting the beauty of bronzed skin without saying anything about the dangers.

As parents, adults and role models people in society need to start promoting and glorifying the beauty of the 'natural' look. Young people should be comfortable in their skin and any artificial color should be viewed as unhealthy and unappealing.

It's not enough that government is placing age restrictions on tanning facilities. Kids need to 'want' to change their attitude towards tanning - you can't force them.

Perhaps, if the famous people (actors, models, etc.) our kids look up to as role models, take the initiative and embrace their natural skin color - a positive ripple effect will occur.

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