According to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, people who use tanning beds and lamps have a considerably higher risk of developing basal and squamous cell carcinoma, the two most common kinds of skin cancer.

A report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, concluded that there is an association between tanning devices that emit ultraviolet (UV) rays and cancer of the eye, and that the risk for melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, increases by 75 percent when the use of tanning beds starts before the age of 35.

Both UVA and UVB rays can cause potentially cancerous changes in the DNA of skin cells. In addition to increasing the risk of skin cancer, tanning also can cause:

  • Premature aging that occurs when skin loses its elasticity and wrinkles prematurely.
  • Immune suppression that can leave the body more susceptible to diseases.
  • Irreversible eye damage due to exposure to UV radiation.
  • An allergic reaction for some people resulting in an itchy rash or other problems. 

The risk of cancer increases anytime a tanning bed is used. But certain practices can lead to additional health problems. Not wearing the goggles provided can cause both short- and long-term eye injury. Use of a tanning bed while taking certain medications or cosmetics also could increase the body’s sensitivity to UV rays.

If you have used tanning beds in the past, the damage to your skin is already done even if you can’t see it yet. But you don’t have to go without that sun-bronzed look. New self-tanners and spray-on tans provide a quick, safe alternative that is better for your skin. To learn more about tanning safety, visit the free, online health library on the Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake website at

Photo credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake

9400 Poppy Drive
Dallas, TX 75218


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