“Are You Tanning Your Body…Or Inviting Cancer”? – FDA Issuing Warnings against Tanning Beds

  • Date: March 24, 2010
  • Source: Admin

Tanning Beds – Boon or Bane
Tanning is a body reaction to UVA and UVB radiation. While on one hand tanning lamps give you tanned skin that has sun-bronzed glow, on the other hand, regular exposure to tanning lamps for the purpose of body tanning increases the likelihood of skin cancer. According to FDA staff, indoor tanning augments the chances of being infected with melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma, the most serious skin cancers, by at least 15%.

According to the Indoor Tanning Association in Washington, about 30 million people or 10% of the population in the U.S. opt for skin tans every year at more than 25,000 facilities across the country. The group represents more than 1,000 closely held salons, equipment manufacturers and distributors. Swedish study reveals that tanning 10 times a year furthers the risk of skin cancer to 80%.

What Tan Salons Have to Say

John Overstreet, executive director of Indoor Tanning Association in Washington, believes that the current regulations are stringent enough. Moreover, all tanning beds, booths and table-top models always carry warnings about repeat exposure or use with certain drugs or cosmetics, and the need for protective eyewear.

He adds, reclassifying the devices would be more difficult for them as that would force the companies to temporarily call their products off from the market till FDA’s shows green signal for selling them.

FDA’s Stand on Tanning Bed Issue

Sharon Miller, M.S.E.E., a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) scientist and international expert on UV radiation and tanning says “Although some people think that a tan gives them a ‘healthy’ glow, any tan is a sign of skin damage,”. Moreover, as tan is skin’s reaction to exposure to ultraviolet rays, Miller believes “Recognizing exposure to the rays as an ‘insult,’ the skin acts in self-defense by producing more melanin, a pigment that darkens the skin. Over time, this damage will lead to prematurely aged skin and, in some cases, skin cancer.”

However, FDA has shown its clear displeasure upon the claim of some of the tan saloons of providing skin tanning that helps creating the mood or produces vitamin D saying, it has found “no adequate evidence” to support any potential health benefits of tanning beds.

Moreover, The American Academy of Dermatology Association also stands firm against indoor tanning and supports a ban on tanning equipment for non- medical purposes. Also, The American Association of Pediatrics recommends against use of tanning salons by people younger than age 21.

Other Risks Associated with Tanning

In addition to the serious risk of skin cancer, tanning can cause:

  • Premature aging. Due to tanning, skin gets over exposed to sun rays and lose elasticity and wrinkle prematurely.
  • Eye damage. Exposure to UV radiation can cause irreversible damage to the eyes.
  • Allergic reaction. People who are sensitive to UV radiation may develop an itchy red rash and other adverse effects caused by tanning.
  • Immune suppression. UV-B radiation suppresses proper functioning of the body’s immune system and the skin’s natural defenses, leaving you more vulnerable to diseases, including skin cancer.


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