How Safe Are Sunbeds?

Updated April 17, 2017

Some people consider tanning in a sunbed a timesaver and a great way to give your skin a healthy glow. Many heath care professionals, however, have issued dire warnings recently about the dangers of tanning beds, specifically their role in increasing your odds of getting skin cancer. The evidence suggests the dangers of sunbeds may far outweigh any benefits.


Millions of people every year visit tanning salons to get a look that makes them feel comfortable wearing summer clothing or swimming costumes. Most physicians and dermatologists, though, maintain that a tan is nothing more than damaged skin.


Sunlight is a source of Vitamin D, can help reduce cholesterol, aids in fighting breast and prostate cancer and boosts the mood of many. Doctors and therapists often prescribe ultraviolet light to those suffering from depression. Lack of sunlight can lead to a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder.


Tanning may make you look younger in the short term, but people who spend a lot of time in the sun get wrinkles sooner. Tanning beds, though, are being blamed for an increase in deadly skin cancer. In an analysis of 20 studies released in 2009, scientists concluded that the risk of skin cancer jumps by 75 per cent in people who start using tanning beds before age 30.


Teenagers who use sunbeds are more likely to develop skin cancer as they age. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the use of tanning beds by young people is comparable to heavy smoking or asbestos exposure. Most tanning salons won't allow a teenager to tan without a parent's consent. It is imperative parents arm themselves with recent knowledge.


There is a differences in opinion among independent studies and the FDA as to whether sunbed use in moderation is good for your body. The FDA recommends no exposure at all; some other studies have shown otherwise. Using a sunbed only two times a year, with minimal exposure, may or may not provide some benefits.


You may love a great tan, but a bad sunburn is never good for your skin or your health. If you become sunburned, see your physician to determine just how much damage has been done. In a Fox News report, experts warned that using tanning beds is as bad as arsenic or mustard gas. The contradictory findings of some other studies demonstrate that common sense should be used at all times.

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About the Author

Kim Kirsch has been writing since 2003. She has worked as a writer and editor for two newspapers covering cultural events, women's issues, religion, sports/fitness, movies, music and politics. For clients' online publications she covers human rights, casinos and more. Kirsch raised an Olympic hopeful and was the American press representative for the Inline Speed Skating World Championships in China, Korea, Colombia and Spain.