Give Up the Fake Bake: Tanning Beds Cause Skin Cancer

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I was young (which I'd like to think wasn’t THAT long ago), it was common practice to buy a package of visits at the local tanning salon before prom, summer vacation or any other upcoming event. I wouldn't say I did it all the time, but looking back, I did it more than I should have. A new report is classifying tanning beds as "carcinogenic to humans." So perhaps the "bronzed-beauty" look is no longer worth the risks to your health.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (part of the World Health Organization) is the group pushing for more stringent warnings and restrictions on tanning bed use. The first group they are targeting are those under 18.

Current laws vary by state. Some states already prohibit young people from using tanning beds, while others require written permission from a parent. But their recommendation is to ban anyone under 18 from using a tanning bed because of the risk of developing skin cancer.

The report, published in the journal The Lancet Oncology determined that the risk of melanoma increases by 75 percent when someone starts using tanning beds before age 30. There have been previous arguments that tanning beds are safe because they only emit UVA light. But findings of new research have prompted the agency to classify all UV radiation (including UVA, UVB and UVC) as carcinogenic.

The FDA requires tanning salons to require customers wear protective eye goggles. My friends and I never wore the goggles because we were afraid of getting tan lines that looked like a "raccoon mask." Not smart, huh? Salons are also required to inform customers of the risks of skin cancer and eye damage. These new findings are forcing the FDA to take a second look at strengthening the language of these warnings.

Do you go to tanning beds? Are you worried about your risk for skin cancer, or do you figure your risk of being in the sun is just as bad? Would you let your teenager go to a tanning salon, especially in light of the most recent research?

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When I was a teenager I loved tanning beds. Some days I would go 3 times a day for 30 mins each time. 20 years later I am now paying for it greatly. Have had 3 different melanomas removed the last 6 months. The last one on my thigh left a 3 inch scar & my leg is actually caved in the spot where they had to go down so deep to get it all. The tanning beds also brought out last of very tiny moles on my body. Now I have to go for yearly full body scan every year because I am at such a high risk now for developing more. My advice to everyone would be do not abuse the tanning beds or make it something you do everyday. Special occasions would be the only time I would say to use one. Just speaking from personal experience!!!! Report
I was raised in the South during a time when having a tan was beautiful and looked heathy. For me, it still is and always will be. I have a pool in my backyard and a tanning salon membership. Year round I soak up the sun and enjoy that warm and comforting feeling. Nothing makes me feel better that to be warm and toasty down to my bones. I love the look of my golden skin. So far, I have been blessed not to have any issues from tanning. I have had 1 mole removed, but the biopsy came back fine. I imagine that I am pushing my luck with tanning and the sun, but I would rather spend tons on money on wrinkle creams, botox and what-not than give it up. It is my one true addiction. Report
I respect personal choice, but I'm a melanoma survivor for 10 years...I was only 27 when I got lucky and my dermatologist spotted a suspicious mole. It was caught very early and the cancer was removed by the biopsy, but I didn't know that until having surgery to remove a chunk of my calf. I tried to tan when I was younger and yes, did use tanning beds for a period of time in my teens and early twenties. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE...If you have a history of excessive tanning, have used or still use tanning beds, keep an eye on your skin and visit a dermatologist for full body checks at least yearly. I go every six months, and almost always have at least one mole removed for biopsy. I've been blessed with no recurrence to this point, but I'm at high risk. The slicing and dicing, the nervous wait for biopsy fun.
Protect your skin...Protect your life! Report
I have had melanoma and it makes me cry when I pass a place advertising tanning beds or I hear young people talking about it. I lived in Florida most of my life and while I didn't try to be tanned, my skin was often burned when I was young (I'm very fair and there were no sunblocks back then).

Melanoma is no fun. While I was waiting for my surgery, I had to deal with the fact that there was a good chance I was going to die. Melanoma is one of the deadliest cancers and in advanced stages, it is always fatal and you don't last long. I was so blessed that while my cancer was big and deep, it was caught before it spread to any lymph nodes. I lost a big piece of my face, have been through much radiation, and I have to continue seeing an oncologist and dermatologist on a regular basis.

So, if you think you must get a tan to look or be healthy, please reconsider! I can take care of my SAD and health concerns with supplemental vitamin D and brief exposures to the sun. Please take care of yourself- melanoma is no fun.
I've never used a tanning bed, never will. I like my skin just fine the way it is. People say you can tan in moderation, but I'd much prefer it if society would get over its love of tanned (damaged) skin and recognise the beauty of everyone's natural skin tones. I try to get some natural sunlight because it helps with depression, but I don't think I've tanned much in the last 10 years. It's too dangerous.

Someone mentioned studies that concluded that chemicals present in most sunscreens can cause skin cancer. I first read about that here :
It's a fine distinction, but it's not that they cause the cancer, but that they accelerate the growth of malignant cells. Extremely troubling, either way! If these studies are accurate, I hope those results will get as much media exposure as the tanning bed thing. Report
Actually I have been told by my dermatoligist ( 2 ) of them, to either lay in the sun nude for 10 minutes 3 times a week or go to a tanning bed 3 times a week. Both have cautioned that perhaps 30 or 35 years down the road I could get cancer from this. However at my age 67 years that would not be an issue for me. What is an issue for me at present is severe Psoriasis. The UV rays with topical steroids is the only way I can keep some control over the Psoriasis as I can not take the internal medication to control it. No I would not reccomend young people use a tanning bed as they have their entire life before them, but tanning beds have their good uses as well. Plus I look great with a good tan and I feel great! Report
I have to say, this is no surprise. Your skin tans in response to damage as an attempt to lessen further damage- repeated or severe damage results in cancer- that concept has been around for a LONG time. My grandfather died of metastatic melanoma which started on his EAR. He always wore a ball cap to protect his bald head, but his ears were exposed. His ear was removed, but his melanoma spread into his lungs & other vital organs; he couldn't breathe, and he died years before his time. I myself have had 2 blistering sunburns- one at age 3, one at age 14. Each one of those doubled my chance of developing melanoma in the future, and certainly increased the number of unsightly moles & spots on my body. Deliberately exposing myself in a tanning bed would be the height of foolishness. Report
we all need to accept our natural skin colors and be proud of them. Any tan is skin damage. Period. And will probably lead to at the very least Basal Cell Carcinoma. Report
No, I do not use tanning salons. They are dangerous, and I would not let my children use them either. We also limit time in the sun, and use sun block frequently.

cj Report
Tans show u don't work indoors but have time to lay around at the beach. Report
"It would never happen to me!!" I went to tanning beds. Now, I go to the dermatologist every six months to make sure melanoma does not apear on me AGAIN. I am thankful that I can say I am a Melanoma survivor. Believe me, it has made me look at things differently. Melanoma is skin cancer that goes into your body and attacks your organs. WEAR SUNSCREEN!! Take it from the one who said that it could never happen to me-IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU!! Report
Tanning in any form is not for me, I'd rather have ivory white skin all year long. I'm almost 30 and still get asked if I'm 18 or under.
Friends who have tanned most of their life look 10 to 15 years older than what they really are. Report
I think ivory skin is very pretty compared to tanning(fake bake). Embrace being who you are. Tanning excessively causes premature age spots and wrinkles. Report
the fake bake is so much more dangerous than direct sunlight! With regard to "the sun" it's the burn that leads to trouble & you can get a great tan using sunblock SPF 30 Report
Before you decide based on the news you are reading I would ask that you read this article and view the video. One thing you need to know above all is that when you put chemicals on your skin those chemicals go directly into your bloodstream!! I would question what is causing the cancer, the sun or UVB rays, I highly doubt it, or the chemicals you put on your skin in the form of fake tans and sunblocks full of chemicals.
It's the burn that causes the problem, whether it be sunburn or tanning bed burn. The old tanning beds had old type balusters which we know emit the EFMs that are bad for you.
Just check it out, know what the newest study is based on before you buy all the hype. The recommendations that just came out didn't come from an independent study at all!! As a matter of fact, there wasn't even a study!!!
People should be happy with the skin they have. You don't need to fry yourself to be beautiful. Report
good grief NO TANNING BEDS!!! I will allow myself ten minutes of direct sunlight before putting on sunscreen during aqua class. I need the Vitamin D...but no sunburn. Report
I am SO glad this was made a blog.

My sister passed just this past April due to skin cancer and she was only 30 years old. She suffered for over 6 years from the disease. The amount of pain she went through was unreal.

She got skin cancer from tanning beds and too much time tanning out in the sun. I am so thankful that information is out there now about how dangerous the sun can actually be, along with tanning beds.

I was one of those teens that never tanned, and let me tell ya...I TRIED! And I tried hard. I did the whole tanning bed bit for awhile but I still never tanned. And once my sister found out she had skin cancer, I was freaked out. I now protect myself and my kids since we are at a higher risk due to to being so pale and sunburning. I realized being tan wasn't worth the pain it could cause me or my family. I watched my sister get more and more sick over the years. I wouldn't want my kids to see me go thru that.

APPLY THAT SUNBLOCK, PROTECT YOUR SKIN....not just for yourself, but for the ones who love you!

I've only used a tanning salad a handful of times. The only time I allowed it was for my wedding (which was in October). I only went 3 or 4 times for that. Otherwise, I refuse to go. I do like to be out in the sun and I never burn but I don't go out for hours on end. I would rather have a slight tan from my time spent doing things outside than to waist time in a tanning booth. Seems a silly way to spend 15 minutes. "Hm, I have an extra 15 minutes during my lunch break... Why don't I go to the salon and increase my chances of getting cancer?" ;) I'm not surprised by the "findings" either. Anyone who has been in a tanning booth could have probably told you it was doing damage! Report
I used to think having a tan made people look healthy. Now when I see someone who is really tan, I think it's really sad that the person is putting themselves at so much risk. Report
Just go outside a little bit. Run, Golf, cook, whatever. Vitamin D comes from the sun. Report
I never worry about tanning and I don't think I would let my kids go to a tanning bed Report
I've tanned quite a bit (in a bed) in the past, but not anymore recently. I've resorted to using self-tanning lotion like jergen's natural glow. It doesn't give the same, instant results, but it's much cheaper and SAFE. :) Report
If you read this, I hope you won't use a tanning bed. I loved going, thought they were safe - even let my daughter go. I got Melanoma. It spread to my lymph nodes. I'm one of the very lucky ones who lived. Please don't use tanning beds, it really isn't worth it. Report
I've never been in a tanning bed, and never will. If I'm going to get skin cancer, I'm certainly not going to make someone else rich in the process.

I've never been tan in my life. I have natually fair skin, and me at my tannest equals other people's skintone in the dead of winter. I get mistaken often for being in my early 20s because my skin looks so young. I'm 33.

I went to school with a girl who, at the time, was tan year round. I'm grew up in the Northeast, so this is not usual, by any means. She was very pretty at the time.

However, a friend recently saw this same girl, and said that now, she looks awful. She looks 10 to 15 years older than what she really is. Somehow I think she may be regretting all those visits to the tanning bed. Report
I have never used a tanning bed, I think it is a waste of money. I do tan out in the sun though. I am one of those "lucky" people who tan very easily so it doesnt take much. My mom is the same way. Report
When I was a kid (in the 70s), Coppertone #4 was what my mother used to lather on us at the beach. In my teens (in the 80s), I used SPF#2 because I thought using tanning oil would make me tan quicker (it didn't; I only burned). Since my early 20s, I have tried not to go out in the sun without a layer of sunscreen. I live in New England, so some times of the year the sun is not as lethal as other times. However, I have one sister who uses a tanning booth regularly, summer and winter; she says I look "washed out." I say that I look healthy, and that I have always admired actresses like Cate Blanchette, who have lovely skin - I think I have good skin, too! Our father has had several (non-cancerous) moles removed; I recently had one non-cancerous mole removed. I am now planning to see the dermatologist once a year. I have seen women who have baked all their lives, and their skin is leathery and old. I would rather be old with soft, clear skin. Report
I do go to a tanning bed, regularly. I follow all the rules regarding exposure times, drug and cosmetic reaction possibilities. The one I go to is ran very well, very informative. I was shocked to read about some people cleaning their own beds and burning first time, etc. Someone wasn't doing their job. Tanning beds are more regulated than the natural sun. That being said, sunscreens and sunblocks actually have more cancer causing ingredients in them than people realize. There are actually studies that indicate some skin cancers are caused by the chemicals in sunscreens. It's always amazing to me the reports that get front page headlines and the ones that don't. I don't believe in conspiracy theories... but I do try to be informed and read all perspectives.
The tanning industry doesn't have a big lobby so this report came out without a rebuttal regarding usage etc. Too bad the reports for Teflon aren't publicized. But then again imagine what would happen if a big company like DuPont had to be held responsible for the cancers they have caused.
It may be vanity, but for me tanning gives me the vitamin D and seratonin I need in measured doses. I can't get out in the daylight many days due to my work schedule. Too many women, now afraid of the sun are putting chemicals directly on their skin, which directly goes into our bodies through our pores. We are also allowing our bodies to be deprived of the Vitamin D we so desperately need and opening ourselves up for cancers because of all the chemicals we put on our skin.
As for my daughters using a tanning bed, probably not. I have a natural lotion that will give them some color if they so desire for proms, etc. However, I do encourage a lot of outdoor time for them so they get all they need from the sun. We use a natural sunscreen from Dr. Mercola to keep from burning. No chemicals, just natural ingredients. Burning, not tanning is the main cause of cancer according to my dermatologist.
BTW post#19 is a really good post. Report
Agree, never used, never will. Why buy possible trouble. Report
I have never used a tanning bed and never will. I don't tan, I burn so therefore I don't lay out or attempt to tan. I was diagnosed with skin cancer when I was 25. The surgeries are extremely painful and leave scars behind. You may think that you will not get cancer, I didn't think I would. I mean I never laid out! So, why put your self at risk? I say pale is the new tan!! Report
I admit that I used to go to tanning beds on a more regular basis. Now I reserve them for preparing for a vacation. Last year I did go tanning one month prior to a trip to jamaica. I was one of the few people that did not get sunburn on that trip. While on that trip I never went anywhere without my sunblock and was able to enjoy the vacation. I know tanning is not good, but I will continue to use it for the rare tropical vacation to avoid spending the whole trip in my room with sunburn. Report
I have gone to tanning salons since I was 15 years old and I'm 34. That is until now. I went to a dermatologist last year for the first time ever to have a routine checkup. She asked me why my skin was so tan and I told her. She literally asked me if I was crazy. She said that over the past year, she had diagnosed skin cancer on 4 patients under the age of 35. That scared me. A nice tan isn't worth leaving my 16-month-old without a mommy. I do go out in the sun, but I try to protect myself and it's not for tanning. It's for playing with the little man or working in the yard. Report
Seems as if we cant even walk outside with out catching cancer ..everywhere you look cancer is a warning sign from cellphones to microwaves pretty soon it will say the computor will cause cancer ..I tan I am scared of cancer however I tan ..I used to burn 2nd degree burns every summer the first time sun would hit id burn really bad one year i had to have my skin pulled off my legs couldnt walk for over 8 weeks I started tanning a couple of years ago and I fell in love with it i have not burned since I have now had 4 years of burn free summers and I feel great I am less prone to depression I spend better time on myself when im tanning and it is a great down time ..Recently do to curiosity i began in home tanning the spray tanning where they come to you and spray you and ..I hated the smell =( it lasted for 3 days and then my skin looked like it was fading in weird places people looked at me weird ..I tried a different tanning place that also spray tans and loved there soloution however it dried my skin out sooo bad and my face looked leathery soo im still on a quest for the right tanning solution .I know this I feel better look better and love the color of Caremel Skin I love it ..I do not want to die of cancer but on the same hand i do not want to liv a pale depressed looking life . Report
I do go to tanning salons. I understand & do realize that you can get cancer from going but there's also other ways you can get cancer too. I don't go as often as I did but I see no harm in going for a few minutes a few times a week but that's my personal each his own! It's a personal choice for everyone...either you like to go or you don't. For me, as a busy Mom & wife who also works outside the home it's my 5 or 7 minutes of "me" time. Report
Great advise.

Mary-Lee Report
Before a trip to Jamaica, years ago, while I was in my early 20's, I bought 10 visits to a tanning salon. Went to the first visit, came out, stinging a bit, and then got violently ill. Never went back! Never thought about it again. Tan in the usual way, if ever, naturally! I have always warned friends, family about the fake tan! It doesn't look right anyway. Report
I have used a tanning bed for two occasions. I used one a few times before my senior prom due to wearing a strapless dress and one time before my wedding. I do not like being confined and quite honestly cannot sit still that long. My tan comes from playing in a river or sitting on a bank fishing.
I also do not like the rubbery look that women who constantly tan obtain when they reach late middle age (sorry ladies). And as far as just being tan, I loved Snow White more than any other princess, she got to play with all the forest creatures.
My Mom has ALWAYS been a 'Tanner'. I have never given in to the Peer pressure to have a tan. I remember back in the 80's when I was a Child an Adult that was reading a Recipe for a good Tan that included Butter. Even as a Child I knew there was something wrong with that. I still get comments from my Mom that I need a Tan. I dont look as Native American as she & my Brother. I think she has an issue with that. Report
I have two daughters who are so susceptible to skin cancers that they have to protect themselves from even the slightest source of UV light such as flourescent lights let alone the sunlight or from tanning beds. They have had skin cancers removed from their skin since they were small children. Believe me when I say to you that "taking the chances" for a tan is not worth the worry and the pain and disfuguring that skin cancer removals cause. My daughters have been very fortunate and have not had any melanomas yet. I pray to God they never have to deal with that because we have known others who have and it is not fun! If you are using the tanning beds, please consider the consequences. The media has given us a lot of hipe about having tanned skin and promises so much, but the media will not sit with you when the dematologist has to start carving lumps out of your skin that leaves scars and disfigurement and worse. I really feel for people who do not take the warnings seriously! My daughters have been through it even not having been part of the tanning population. They don't have a choice - but the rest of us do. Thanks for this article~it says some important things. Report
I have never ever in my life been tan before... Until I started using a tanning bed this year for the first time in my life... I received a gift of a month of tanning and I hate to admit that I love it.. I generally go and tan after my workouots... It is my cool down time so to speak.. I just turned 40 this year, I look great, I feel great and sorry say I am not stopping.. I think of it this way I am going to get cancer one way or another... Report
I used tanning beds while in college and will never use them again! I was a fool for baking in them! Now I go to the pool from time to time so my son can swim and play but I don't lay out and tan anymore. I get my color from a bottle:-). There are free tanning beds in my apartment complex and I see women going into them everyday. I feel like plastering flyers in the room about the real risks and data that show how dangerous they really are. I am only 26 but am always examining my skin and moles for fear that I caused some damage. If I have a daughter in the future I will not let her fakebake...I would rather pay for spray tans. Then again, I doubt tanning beds will be around or that tanning in general with be the trend at the time. Report
I used tanning beds in my teens and 20s. Then my father was diagnosed with skin cancer and I learned alot about the disease and quit going to the salons. When on vacation, I will still spend time out in the sun but using ample amounts of sun screen. I now get the sun kissed look occasionally with a bronzing powder for my face but that's it. Report
I love the tanning bed...and tanning in general. I think that tanning in a bed or in the sun poses the same risks. . I only use the tanning bed for 1-2 months a year...and soak up some rays for Vitamin D and a golden glow in the summer. I think, all things in moderation.... Report
I have used tanning beds a few times in my past and also spent 4 years living in Hawaii under the blazing sun. I recently was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma, a fairly common type of skin cancer. The doctor and I both feel the tanning bed use and the excessive sun were factors in this diagnosis. I have noticed that tanning beds are not as common in this area as they have been in the past. I do not recommend them at all and if you are in the sun for any length of time, please wear a hat and a protective sunscreen. Report
I have never used a tanning bed and don't plan on it. I have a niece who used them all the time and when you would see her up close, her skin looked like she was in her 60's instead of her 20's, it was so bad, she finally gave up the tanning beds and after awhile her skin came back to life.
bj Report
i've been in my fair share of tanning beds, and as much as i love no tan lines and how relaxing they are i've decided to give them risky. think i may try a spray salon next year... Report
Never used a tanning bed, never plan to. Cancer or not, it just never interested me. If I get tan naturally over the course of a summer, fine, but I'm not a sun worshipper by ANY stretch of the imagination. ;) Report
I've never done a tanning bed, but have known many who do. I always worried about them, especially one person I know who has gone continuously for many years. She is now in her fifties and has leather-like skin. Report
Proud to say I have never used a taning bed! I have layed out in the sun from time to time, that wasn't too smart either because I'm so fair skinned and my dad and both grandmothers have has skin cancers removed. I am one of those people who mainly just burn, it takes a lot of sun exposure to get a tan and it dosen't last anytime. Report
I've been using gradual tanner too and love it! Sally Hansen has a gradual tanner that is also works on your legs so that you shave less often. I've never understood tanning beds, I always assumed that they were pretty dangerous. Not sure who would let their kids use one... Report
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