It’s no surprise that too much time in the tanning bed can be dangerous for your health. But a new study released yesterday reveals just how much.
International cancer experts say that the ultraviolet radiation from tanning bed bulbs is a definite cause of cancer. For years scientists have described those UVA rays as “probable carcinogens.”
Medical journal Lancet Oncology published the research. It now ranks tanning beds and ultraviolet radiation into the top cancer risk category, alongside tobacco, the hepatitis B virus and arsenic.
“Whether it’s sunshine or ultra violet tanning in a tanning bed, there is no safe way,” said Dr. Mark Koone, a dermatologist at Texoma Dermatology Clinic in Sherman.
Dr. Koone said it’s especially important for Texans to be wary of ultraviolet rays, because the sun is so intense in this region.
“If you’re getting ultra violet radiation enough to the point where you get a tan it means you’ve caused DNA damage, you’ve caused mutations in your skin,” explained Dr. Koone.
But what do these findings mean for local tanning businesses?
Joan Thompson owns Electric Beach Tan, the first tanning salon to open its doors in Denison 20 years ago. She says the reason customers keep coming back is because they enjoy the tanning experience.
“It’s just relaxing for a lot of people because it’s their me time,” said Thompson.
And even though that relaxation could come at a price, she said she isn’t too worried about her business.
“I think no, it’s not going to change people that really love to tan, because this business has been in place for too long,” said Thompson.
Dr. Koone seems to feel the same way, although he hopes people will heed the research’s findings.
“My gut feeling is the behavior overall probably won’t change that much, this is just confirming what we’ve already suspected,” said Dr. Koone.
The new analysis combined about 20 studies and concluded that the risk of skin cancer jumps by 75 percent when people start using tanning beds before age 30.
One mother said she's been following the research and is always adamant about sun protection for her family. Kate Whitfield of Sherman said it’s an effort worthwhile and will pay off in the long run.
So as for “fake n bake?” Well she said that's out of the question.
"We haven't had any skin burns and we've never had anybody even ask to go to a tanning parlor because they know that would be not acceptable," said Whitfield.