Researchers caution that the roughly 1 million Americans who seek a "safe" tan at their
local tanning salon face the same risk of skin cancer as sun-worshippers.
The bottom line would be that suntan salon
exposure produces cell damage in the skin -- the type of damage that potentially can lead to
The researchers focused on 11 men and
women with fair skin between the ages of 18 and 50. All were in good health,
and none had tanned within the month prior to the study. Investigators
exposed the participants to 10 full-body tanning bed sessions over a 2-week
period, using the same types of UV bulbs most commonly found in US tanning
The dose of UV exposure was incrementally
increased at every session, with a small portion of each participant's skin
covered throughout the study and another portion exposed only once at the
The investigators compared skin and blood
samples taken from the fully, partially and unexposed skin areas.
Investigators report that as a result of the full exposure to the tanning bed's UV
bulbs, the participants had alterations in certain parts of their DNA and
among certain skin proteins.
These molecular changes, the team determined, had the potential to increase
the bed-tanner's long-term risk of developing skin cancer -- a risk they
described as being similar to that associated with lying in the sun.
salons tend to like to make the claim that their tan is safe -- and it is
The higher the number of exposures to a
tanning bed the greater the chances that an individual's skin may not be able
to perfectly correct the damage done each time -- placing the tanner at an
increased risk of cancer.
of the American Academy of Dermatology May 2001;44:775-780
Dr. Mercola's Comment:
My patients ask me this question and I
thought many people would benefit from my writing down my thought on the
In theory, a tanning bed can be safe,
but the practical reality is that most all commercial tanning beds are
accidents waiting to happen.
There are two problems with them
relating to two different types of radiation.
The first one is X-rays which are
emitted by the ends of both bulbs. This occurs with any fluorescent bulb. The
X-rays can be shielded with a piece of lead tape wrapped around the last inch
of the bulb.
The second is EMF emitted by the
magnetic ballast used for most all of the tanning beds. It is these magnetic
ballasts that give the tanning bed the hum that you here.
The EMF decreases by one over the
square root of the distance from the bulb. In simpler terms it drops off very
rapidly the further you are away from the ballast, but in a tanning bed one
is only several inches away from the magnetic ballast.
This problem also has a solution, in
that one can remove the magnetic ballast and replace it with a very quiet and
much more efficient electronic ballast. Nearly any handy electrical person
can install the replacement and most electrical supply stores carry them.
So one can actually construct a
"safe" tanning bed, but I don't know anyone who actually has done
There really is a huge market here for
an entrepreneur who understands health and can market a "safe"
So, what are the options if you want to
protect yourself prior to the summer sun or going on a vacation?
The key is to limit your initial
exposure and never, never get sunburned.
The sun's most intense rays are emitted
one hour on either side of 12:00 (non-Daylight Savings Time). So stay out of
the sun from 11 to 1 and increase your exposure gradually.
I am not a fan of sun screens as some
experts believe that the sun screen chemicals themselves actually contribute
to increased risk of skin cancer as well.
UV Light Linked to Skin Cancer or Is it?
May Not Prevent Melanoma
Vitamin D May
Prevent Skin Cancer
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