Tanning Beds Are Not the Answer

Contributed by: Ryan Collar, MD

186656895-e1392669034464-300x222It’s that time of the year when you look in the mirror and don’t recognize the person with the pale, dull complexion who is staring back at you. Let’s face it, this has been an extremely tough winter and most of us have been holed up like a bear in hibernation. But if you’re thinking a tanning bed is the ticket to bringing back your healthy glow, think again. Why? Tanning beds are being blamed for an alarming spike of melanoma among young women. In fact, up to 75 percent of melanomas diagnosed between the ages of 18 and 29 are associated with tanning use. And if the risk of melanoma isn’t enough to dissuade you from using tanning beds, then I’ll appeal to your vanity.  Tanning beds, just like the sun, increase your risk of wrinkles, eye damage and changes in skin texture, tone and clarity.

Why are tanning beds so dangerous?

Tanning beds emit three to six times the amount of radiation given off by the sun. This means that using a bed or a booth for 20 minutes translates into one to three hours of lying out at the beach without any sun screen protection. In 2009, the World Health Organization moved tanning beds into the highest cancer risk category—carcinogenic to humans. And some states, including California, Nevada and Illinois have even banned the use of tanning beds among minors.

Tanning bed alternatives

Bronzers in the form of powders and moisturizers, once applied, create a tan that can easily be removed with soap and water. More like make-up, these products tint or stain your skin only until they are washed off. And to better your skin health overall, incorporate orange juice, milk, fish, and supplements into your diet as alternative sources of Vitamin D, and avoid prolonged periods of time in the sun without sun screen protection. Finally, the Women’s Center offers a variety of skincare services to help keep you looking young and healthy.

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