Understanding The Danger Of Tanning Beds
Whenever a glowing tan becomes fashionable, controversy rages between those who believe that sunshine is healthy and those who believe that sunshine is dangerous. The glowing tan has been fashionable for quite some time now. In fact, the fashion is to start tanning season with an even tan from a tanning bed. Most health organizations agree on the danger of tanning beds. Even those who promote tans from tanning beds agree that natural sunshine is potentially dangerous. Why they don’t agree on the danger of tanning beds is an interesting story.
The Science Of Tanning Beds
Skin is made up of more than one layer. The effects of the sun are seen on the top layer of skin. A suntan results from the production of melanin by your skin and the sun’s radiation working on that melanin. The danger of exposure to the sun is evident since melanin is only produced in reaction to overexposure to the sun’s rays. Once produced, more exposure turns the skin’s surface darker to protect it from burning. While sun burn should always be avoided, the presence of a tan is evidence that damage has already occurred. It should be emphasized that sun damage to skin is cumulative. The damage you did last year (and every year before that) is still counting against your odds to avoid skin cancer. Proponents of tanning beds believe that a tan helps prevent further damage to the skin. It’s this difference of opinion that makes the question of the potential danger of tanning beds so controversial.
While tanning beds use the same kinds of ultraviolet light as the sun, the proportion of UVA and UVB are different. Most tanning beds emit 95%Ultraviolet A and 5% Ultraviolet B. Some beds use UVA only. Many experts agree that exposure to UVB should be avoided as much as possible. It distorts and damages DNA strands, causes moles and some types of skin cancer, causes skin aging, is more likely to cause sunburn and is blocked by sunscreens. Why increase the danger of tanning beds by including UVB at all? It is the kind of radiation that creates and secretes melanin, allowing tanning to take place. It also stimulates the production of vitamin D. UVA causes more skin aging than UVB, is not blocked by sunscreens, and causes the most dangerous type of skin cancer – melanoma. Why increase the danger of tanning beds by using so much UVA? It is the kind of radiation that releases the melanin created by the UVB and makes it combine with oxygen to create the tan. Controversy exists over whether the vitamin D released by the UVB helps protect against cancer. The tan created by tanning beds is not deep enough to protect skin from the sun’s rays, by the way. Even a dark tanning bed tan leaves the skin as vulnerable as if no tan existed. While there are definite indications of the danger of tanning beds, the truth is that they haven’t been around long enough for the jury to be in. In a decade or so, the cumulative effects will become clear. In the meantime, everyone has to decide for himself about the danger of tanning beds.