Artificial Tanning: Just How Bad Is It?

It’s that time of the year again. It seems as if it’s been snowing outside for an eternity, and the sun has taken a too long of a vacation. But now that the weather is starting to get warm again, it’s easy to want a quick fix for that pale winter skin. But is being bronze really worth the risk of exposing one’s skin to harmful UV bulbs? Just how bad are tanning beds?

In today’s day and age, the idea of smoking cigarettes is absurd to many people, due to their high risk of cancer and the many toxic carcinogens found in them. What many don’t realize, though, is that UV-tanning beds are actually classified in the same risk level group as cigarettes by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Not to mention, this risk level group is the highest risk for cancer out of all carcinogens.

While many states have now adopted regulations to prevent anyone under 18 from tanning, several studies say it may not matter. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, anyone who begins tanning before the age of 30 increases their chances to get skin cancer by 75 percent. In 2014, there were  more cases of skin cancer due to UV tanning than cases of lung cancer due to smoking.

Despite the high risks, UV tanning supporters like the Indoor Tanning Association argue that the benefits outweigh the dangers. According to the Indoor Tanning Association, the increased vitamin D intake associated with UV tanning can enhance mood, increase energy and may even prevent disease. There is little to no causal evidence for these claims, but nevertheless, many pro-tanning groups continue to advocate for tanning salons.

Even if UV-tanning is able to prevent disease, it is still responsible for over five million cases of skin cancer in the United States each year, the most deadly being cases of melanoma. In the United States alone, someone dies of melanoma every hour.

If these statistics aren’t enough to prove that UV tanning is not worth the risk, consider the alternatives. Spray tanning and self tanners have been proven to be safe for use on the skin, and there are even organic options for self tanning. Although a bronzed glow is always nice to have, the facts are evident. It may be time for this generation to ditch the tanning beds and embrace their natural skin tones — or at least use safer alternatives.

By Madison Paddock