Are tanning beds safe? The answer depends on who you ask. Don’t expect employees at a tanning salon to warn you about the dangers of tanning. 

Even with federal guidelines on how much exposure people should have in a tanning booth, most tanning parlors said customers could come in as often as they wanted. And, some even denied that tanning indoors could cause cancer or prematurely age the skin.

However, 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. 

Tanning salons use lamps that emit both UVA radiation, which penetrates to the deeper layers of the skin, and some UVB radiation, which goes through the top layers of skin. When using a tanning bed, the concentration of UVA rays is higher than that from the sun. As a result, the skin absorbs more rays in the long term resulting in both skin aging and a higher risk for skin cancer. 

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 can also 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

Despite the risks of tanning beds, 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

Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake
9400 Poppy Drive
Dallas, TX 75218
214 324-6100

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