Why is tanning is dangerous?

The greatest contributor (approximately 65 percent) to melanoma is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This includes UV radiation that comes from both the sun and from artificial sources, such as tanning beds. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies tanning beds and tanning lamps into its highest cancer risk category – carcinogenic to humans, the same category as other hazardous substances such as plutonium and certain types of radium.

Misleading Information

The tanning industry has tried to tell consumers that vitamin D is necessary and that it should be sought from tanning beds. That fact is, all necessary vitamin D can be found in a healthy diet or from a vitamin supplement. If you are concerned about your vitamin D levels, consult your doctor, not a tanning salon!

Staggering Statistics

Research indicates that just one blistering sunburn can double your chances of developing melanoma later in life. In addition, using tanning beds before age 35 increases your risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent. Occasional use of tanning beds triples your chances.

Melanoma is the second most common cancer in teens and young adults and is the most common type of cancer for young adults. Melanoma is the leading cause of cancer death in women 25 to 30 years old and the second leading cause of cancer death in women 30 to 35 years old.

There is NO Such Thing as a “Safe Tan”

Tanned skin is a result of damage to skin cells. Research suggests that the cumulative damage to skin cells can lead to wrinkles, age spots, premature aging and skin cancer. Tanning is so dangerous that several countries, including Brazil, have made it completely illegal.

Tanning is Addictive

The connection between UV radiation and melanoma is clear, yet tanning is more popular than ever. This has prompted researchers to explore the addictive nature of tanning. Resulting research shows tanning is, in fact, addictive, similar to other cancer-causing activities (e.g. tobacco use). UV light has been shown to increase the release of endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that relieve pain and generate feelings of well-being. This could potentially lead to dependency.

In fact, a recent study found  that some people who have been diagnosed with melanoma continue to use indoor tanning beds – further supporting the idea that tanning is addictive.

Would you like to see more melanoma facts and figures? View the MRF’s It’s a Fact sheet.