The importance of yesterday’s breaking news linking tanning salons to skin cancer is not the fact that they are related, we have known that for over 25 years. The importance is that it was proven in a very scientific study published in the very prestigious medical journal, Lancet Oncology, and in the journal they stated and proved that the risk of skin cancer jumps 75% if you start using tanning beds before the age of thirty. Finally we can respond to the very powerful tanning salon lobby (a $5 billion annual business) that keeps stating that there's no proof that tanning salons cause skin cancer. Now we (the medical community and consumers) have proof.
So why are tanning salons so hazardous to your health? When you go out in the sun, your life experience gives you some sense of how much sun you're getting and how much risk you are at. But when you go to a tanning salon where they are using Ultraviolet A bulbs, you have no idea what level of dangerous rays you are getting. Let me show you what I mean.
[Dr. Schultz turns on some purple ultraviolet rays.] These bulbs are qualitatively very similar to the bulbs that are used in a tanning salon. They emit a certain amount of energy, but you can’t tell there is no heat; there is no way for you to judge how much dangerous energy is coming out. Some of these bulbs are very powerful; some of them in fifteen minutes can give you as much energy as you would get in eight hours all day outdoors. Also, as the bulbs get older, they change in energy, they decrease in energy, and so the tanning salon has no idea how much energy you are actually getting; even scarier, you have no idea: it is completely unpredictable.
The bottom line is the amount of energy that you are getting is going to determine whether or not you get skin cancer and you have no way to judge this at a tanning salon. That is why tanning beds are so hazardous to your health.
So while the only safe tan is a tan you get from a self-tanner out of a bottle, one thing is for sure: the tan you get in a tanning salon is the worst and most dangerous tan, so please do not use tanning salons.