Contrary to the tanning industry’s claims, there is clear link between melanoma—the most deadly form of skin cancer and one of the fastest growing cancers in the U.S.—and exposure to ultraviolet rays (UV) from natural or artificial sources (such as tanning beds). In fact, approximately 65 percent of melanomas are attributed to UV exposure.
There are clear, evidence-based data demonstrating harmful effects of UVA and UVB radiation, including its carcinogenic/mutagenic effects on DNA. The use of indoor tanning (outside of medical practice) represents one of the most striking examples of an avoidable cause of lethal cancer in man.
There is no such thing as a “safe” or “healthy” tan from UV exposure.
- UV exposure causes a biochemical reaction in the skin that causes it to tan, but it is also the same process that damages DNA, causing cancerous mutations in skin cells.
- If those mutations are not completely repaired—as frequently occurs—skin cancers result.
- Since the tanning process appears to be the same process that damages DNA; current research suggest that it may be impossible to separate the two.
Exposure to both UVA and UVB radiation is harmful.
- Although DNA absorbs UVB rays more efficiently than UVA rays, 99 percent of rays reaching the epidermis (where skin cancer develops), are UVA rays.
- Current research has documented that both UVA and UVB rays are mutagenic for the skin, not just UVB. Today, most indoor tanning devices emit 95 percent or more UVA rays.
UV exposure increases your risk of developing melanoma.
- A 2007 study found that individuals who had first used a tanning bed prior to age 35 had a 75 percent greater risk of developing melanoma.
- Additional research suggests most melanomas are produced through UVA exposure. There is no scientific evidence that recreational exposure to UV radiation is safe.
Healthy vitamin D levels can be achieved and maintained without UV exposure.
- The amount of UV exposure needed to produce sufficient vitamin D levels is very small.
- In one 20-minute tanning session, a tanning salon patron receives 4.5-7 times the amount of UVB radiation needed for vitamin D production, in addition to the exposure to harmful UVA rays.
- While vitamin D may have anti-cancer and other health benefits, there is no benefit to using UV to boost its level since it is a known carcinogen.