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Tan-free Skin is in Trend but Cancer-free Skin is Even Better

Tan-free Skin is in Trend but Cancer-free Skin is Even Better

Discover the hidden dangers of tanning beds and sun lamps in our latest blog. Learn how they increase the risk of deadly skin cancer and premature aging.

Mr. Nihal Shanbhag and Dr. Amit Ranjan
April, 29 2023
2311

Getting an artificial sun-kissed glow from a tanning bed may be all the rage in a fashionista’s world, but it comes at a hidden cost. Not taxes or hidden surcharges, but rather something much more deadly. Tanning beds and sun lamps are commonly used to get bronzed skin without exposing oneself to natural sunlight. But these devices can increase the risk of developing dangerous moles, lesions, and various other skin growths. Over time, these seemingly benign growths and lesions may give rise to malignant melanomas.

Tanning beds expose the unwitting consumer to deadly ultra-violet (UV) rays, whose radiation can induce DNA damage to the skin and thus start the process of carcinogenesis. The amount of UV radiation provided by these tanning beds is often much higher than the amount received from the sun. This is because tanning beds are designed in such a way that they deliver a consistent dose of UV in a very short period of time, which is not typical of natural sun exposure.

Recent studies conducted by scientists from the Cutaneous Biology Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA have suggested that the damage caused to our genetic makeup by UV rays has carcinogenic potential by causing mutations throughout the genome as well as by sharply decreasing the function of certain tumor suppressor genes like p53.

The most common types of skin cancer associated with tanning beds and sun lamps are basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas as well as one of the most deadly types of skin cancer, i.e., melanomas. Melanomas in particular are a very aggressive form of skin cancer and are almost always fatal if not detected and treated at an early stage.

According to the World Health Organisation as well as the International Agency for Research on Cancer, tanning beds and sun lamps come under the category of Group 1 carcinogens, which means that there is a significant amount of evidence of carcinogenicity in humans. Despite this classification, many people still continue to use tanning beds, often mistakenly believing that tanning beds are a healthier alternative to the sun. Their mistaken beliefs are further strengthened by the aggressive public relations and marketing campaigns run by the rapidly growing tanning bed industry. The tanning bed market might potentially cross annual revenues of $10 Billion by 2025 in developed countries in North America and Europe alone.

According to a study conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology, people who have used a tanning bed even once have a 59% higher chance of developing melanomas, arguably the deadliest form of skin cancer, than those who have never used one. Another study by the Skin Cancer Foundation suggests that those who use a tanning bed or a sun lamp increase their risk for melanomas by a whopping 75%.

It is important to note that there is no such thing as a safe tan. The only reason that a consumer’s skin color changes to a more “desirable” and aesthetically pleasing shade of skin color is because DNA damage caused by UV radiation also initiates the tanning pathway. Any change in skin color caused by the tanning bed and subsequent UV radiation is a sign of skin damage which can be detrimental to the health of the consumer. The damage can accumulate over time and even cause premature aging of the skin.

If you want to achieve an enviable sun-kissed glow, other alternatives such as spray tans and self-tanning products can be used. If you have used tanning beds in the past, it is extremely important to be vigilant about any changes in your skin, such as moles, lesions, or any such changes in color and texture.

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