In 2014, the acting U.S. Surgeon General released a report stating that indoor tanning is strongly associated with an increased risk of skin cancer. That risk only grows with every indoor tanning session. Studies have also linked tanning beds to an increased risk of melanoma, especially among people who begin using tanning beds as teenagers or young adults. Thus, today most doctors and health organizations recommend not using tanning beds and sun lamps. It’s a myth that indoor tanning is safer than tanning in the sun. It’s also a myth that it’s safer to develop a “base tan” indoors before spending time outside.
In addition, according to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention, skin cancer isn’t the only risk from indoor tanning. Indoor tanning also:
- Results in older-looking skin
- Encourages wrinkles, age spots and a weathered, leathery texture
- Increases risk of eye damage from cataracts or photokeratitis, which can cause blindness, if eye protection is not worn
A healthier alternative is to use a sunless tanning lotion, which can provide a darker look without the risk of damaging skin cells or cancer. Make sure to choose a lotion instead of a spray, though. DHA, a chemical present in sunless tanner, can increase the risk of cancer and other diseases when inhaled. Spray tan devotees should, at a minimum, take measures to prevent the chemical from entering their bodies. Eye protection, nose plugs, and lip balm are recommended.
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