At the beginning of October, California passed a law banning the use of sun tanning parlors by minors under the age of 18. This law that goes into effect on January 1st, 2012,
This is very important because tanning bed use has been demonstrated to increase the incidence of melanoma skin cancer. And as a DermTV viewer, you know that in the US, there’s an epidemic of melanoma that is occurring in white women between the ages of 15 to 39, in whom, the incidence of melanoma has almost tripled in the past 3 decades. And…in the United States, every hour, one person dies from melanoma. So any effort to help decrease melanoma and slow this epidemic is great. In fact, I hope that now other states will follow California’s lead and also prohibit the use of tanning devices in salons by minors to help reduce the incidence of both melanoma and non melanoma skin cancer.
But let’s take a step back. Why do tanning beds increase the chance of you getting melanoma?
The energy that tanning salon bulbs emit is almost all UVA, which causes both melanoma and non melanoma skin cancer, premature skin aging, cataracts, and even suppression of the immune system. On top of that, the doses of UVA from these bulbs is much higher than the dose you get from natural exposure to sunlight. To compound the issue even further, because there is almost no UVB from the tanning bulbs, you don’t get a sun BURN, which is your body’s warning signal that your skin is being damaged. So you don’t know when you’ve just had too much UV radiation..
To put the danger of indoor tanning into context, while I discourage everyone from purposely trying to get a tan from any method other than the only safe one… from a bottle… If you absolutely must get a tan and not from a bottle… I can’t believe I’m about to say this… Go play in the sun… But don’t go to a tanning salon… Tanning salons are even more dangerous!