Do Tanning Salons Increase Your Risk of Cancer?

List: Posted: 12/10/10

With so much information released in the past few decades about the strong links between sunlight and skin cancer, many people have turned instead to tanning salons to get their much desired rays.  They may see this as the 'safe' alternative to tanning. The question on many people’s minds, however, is whether or not tanning salons also increase your risk of cancer. The thinking goes like this - they're legal and I see them in every high-street, so therefore they must be somehow 'tested' and safe.

No so. In short, the answer is that yes, tanning salons can absolutely increase your chances of being diagnosed with skin cancer.  In fact, anyone who is exposed to ultraviolet light in large doses, whether it is natural or artificial, is at an increased risk  Studies show that women who use tanning beds are 55% more likely to develop melanoma than people who avoid tanning.  This is certainly a statistic that is too large to be ignored, and it highlights the level of risk that people are taking on whenever they visit tanning salons.

While everyone who uses tanning salons is at risk, there are individuals who are at an elevated risk of developing malignant melanoma.  This group includes people with fair skin, people with blond or light hair, people with blue or green eyes, people who easily burn, and people who have been previously diagnosed with skin cancer.  Genetics also plays a major factor.

Tanning salons are certainly a big risk to take in the name of vanity.  For most people, tanning sprays are a much healthier alternative, and the results can often last just as long.  If you still wish to use tanning salons, despite the significant risk, it is recommended that you see a dermatologist bi-annually, as skin cancer detected early enough is almost always curable, usually at the cost of some pretty expensive (and painful) skin-grafting surgery.

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