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Indoor tanning equipment, such as tanning beds or sun lamps, can cause cancer. These devices give off ultraviolet radiation (UVR), which is a known cancer-causing substance (carcinogen). UVR causes cataractscataractsA cloudy area on or within the lens of the eye that reduces vision. Symptoms of cataracts include blurred, cloudy or double vision, sensitivity to light and difficulty seeing at night. and skin damage, including sunburns, premature skin aging and wrinkles, and skin cancer. Tanned skin is damaged skin. When the tan fades, the damage is still there.
There’s no safe way to get a tan. Just like the sun, tanning beds and sun lamps give off UVR that causes skin damage. In fact, indoor tanning equipment gives off UVR at levels up to 5 times stronger than the midday summer sun. Getting a tan from a tanning bed doesn’t protect you from the sun – it does more harm than the sun.
In general, indoor tanning equipment uses mostly ultraviolet A (UVA). Although UVA rays are weaker than UVB rays, they can still increase the risk of skin cancer and cause skin damage. Some tanning equipment may also give off small amounts of UVB (usually less than 5%).
Using indoor tanning equipment increases the risk of developing skin cancer, the most common type of cancer.
Indoor tanning equipment is popular with young people. This is a major health concern because researchers have shown there is a link between UV exposure early in life and the risk of skin cancer. The longer the exposure, the greater the risk, especially for those exposed at a younger age. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that people under the age of 18 should not use a tanning bed or sun lamp. The Canadian Cancer Society also believes that people under the age of 18 should not be allowed by law to use indoor tanning equipment.
Using tanning beds may increase vitamin D production, depending on the type of bulbs used (only UVB radiation can stimulate vitamin D production). But tanning beds are not a safe way to get vitamin D. There are safer ways to get vitamin D.
Skin cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer. Regardless of your skin type, tanning increases your risk of skin cancer. People with fair skin may be at even higher risk for skin cancer from using tanning beds than people with other skin types.
To reduce your risk of getting skin cancer, do not use tanning beds or sun lamps.
Thanks to the incredible progress in retinoblastoma research made possible by Canadian Cancer Society funding, my son won’t have to go through what I did.
Discover how your lifestyle choices can affect cancer risk and how you can take action with our interactive tool – It’s My Life!