Indoor tanning has grown over the past few decades into a large industry. Every year, over $2.5 billion dollars are spent on indoor tanning. Approximately 28 million people tan indoors in the United States and many of these indoor tanners are teenagers.
The indoor tanning equipment works by mimicking the ultraviolet light emitted by the sun. In some cases the intensity of the light is similar to that of the sun, and in others it may be stronger. It is a scientific fact that ultraviolet light will damage DNA and that DNA changes can eventually lead to skin cancers.
Studies have found up to a 75% increase in the risk of developing melanoma in those who have been exposed to ultraviolet radiation from indoor tanning. Although people of all ages are at risk, melanoma commonly afflicts the young and middle aged. Melanoma is the most common cancer in young adults aged 20-30, is the leading cause of cancer death for women aged 25-30, and is the second most common cause of cancer death for women aged 30-35 (second only to breast cancer). In addition, indoor tanning increases the risk of developing other types of skin cancers, including squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. People who use indoor tanning salons are nearly 70% more likely to develop a basal cell skin cancer before the age of 40.
Because of this information, both the United States Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency of Research on Cancer have declared ultraviolet radiation to be a known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance), regardless of whether the ultraviolet light comes from the sun or from artificial sources such as tanning beds.
In addition to increasing the risk of developing skin cancer, ultraviolet radiation from indoor tanning may also lead to premature aging of the skin.
For all of these reasons, Dr. Amerian and Dr. Anterasian wish to strongly remind our patients to abstain from the use of tanning salons. The risks are simply not worth the benefits. If one of our patients wishes to have the appearance of a suntan, then a spray-on tan is a much safer way to go. Self-tanning lotions or spray-on tans are the only safe way to achieve a tan look.
Sunless tanning lotions and sprays contain dihydroxyacetone, or DHA. The DHA interacts with the proteins in the skin to produce the appearance of a tan. Although early formulations of self-tanners produced an orange appearing hue in the skin, recent technological advances have resulted in more realistic looking results.
It is important to remember that the skin color produced by a self-tanner does not provide adequate sun protection for your skin, so be sure to continue to generously apply a water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 that provides broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays.