Growing up I can remember all my girlfriends preparing months in advance for two of the most important days of the year to every high school girl… the Homecoming and Prom school dance. As the months approached everyone had to plan the perfect dress, shoes, hair and makeup. One of the most important elements of the perfect prom look was bronzed glowing skin to compliment that beautiful silk dress. Everyone was obsessed. Young girls between the ages of 15 to 18 were buying monthly indoor tanning packages and tanning two or three times a week. I was part of that population for about two years until I stopped and all of my friends still spend their hours baking under the rays. Indoor Tanning is one of the most concerning problems in the United States and there is much controversy whether it causes cancer or not.
Indoor tanning and UV radiation has widely been knows as one of the leading causes of melanoma for young women and was even written about in a an editorial from the British Journal of Dermatology stating that a 25% rise in cases of melanoma was due to indoor tanning equipment. With tanning salons across the country in more locations than McDonald’s or Starbucks, there is an increased risk for more than just melanoma but also other types of skin cancer. The International Agency for Research of Cancer found a positive association, as Dr. Andrews spoke about in class, between melanoma and tanning beds. Biologically speaking, the UV rays that penetrate into the skin, traveling to the epidermis, altering your DNA is where things get a little messed up (Friedman). The only way to avoid these, in some cases, deadly alterations is to avoid UV rays all together and when outside in the sun protecting yourself with sunscreen.
These are an extremely small portion of all the findings supporting this accusation. But what if there is more probable cause such as your skin type, or the amount of time you are in a tanning bed, or the age you enter a tanning bed for the first time? These are all things to consider when thinking about using one of these UV machines. The younger you are the more sensitive your skin is, and the more it is exposed to UV rays the the more damage will occur. The natural sun contains some UV rays but tanning equipment is anything but natural rays, sometimes containing 10 to 15 times more UV light than the sun (Friedman). Ultraviolet Rays also does not contain any of the natural vitamins we take in from the sun.
Another element of this journal article that is controversial is that some association has been proven between tanning beds and psychological and behavioral issues. This may have scientific evidence that there is some probable cause. Realistically thinking about this assumption, it is hard to believe it is true. Just think how many girls do you know that walk out of a tanning bed feeling depressed or have anxiety from being exposed to light that is noticeable to others? Not enough to make it a real concern. Also being exposed to the UV light, I have not personally experienced these effects and can not relate or understand how they are even possible.
In conclusion, tanning beds are dangerous and absolutely not necessary and cancer is a leading side effect from the UV lights transmitted into your skin cells. There is a law for a reason and many scientific findings to prove that tanning and UV lights does contribute to the increased risk of Melanoma and other types of skin cancer. However, there is still room for more research on a correlation between psychological and behavioral level.
Friedman, B., English, J., & Ferris, L. (2015). Indoor tanning, skin cancer and the young female patient: A review of the literature. Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, 28(4), 275-283. doi:10.1016/j.jpag.2014.07.015