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Tanning Salons and the Potential Side Effects

Tanning salons or tanning beds are thought to be safer than getting a tan directly from the sun; however, it is not without possible side effects. People go to tanning salons for different reasons. In the United States, tanning is,tanning side effects more often than not, seasonal, beginning in January before summer begins (as a primer or base tan) and slowing down come June; it is done primarily for cosmetic reasons. In Europe, where many areas have fewer days of sunshine, tanning beds are used all year long for the mood altering benefits it provides and for cosmetic reasons as well. Some people go to tanning salons because it makes them feel good. Because tanning beds generate a lot of heat, as well as infrared, it penetrates the body and can relieve minor muscle aches.

Tanning beds vs. natural tan

Tanning beds have higher levels of UV than what you get from the sun on a typical day, and thus exposure time in tanning beds is shorter than the time you need to spend under the sun to get the same amount of tan. The tan produced in a tanning salon is not as deep as the tan that is produced when sunbathing. This means that when a person with an artificially dark tan produced by a tanning bed goes outside and bathes under the sun for a long time, he or she is likely to get sunburned quickly because the deeper levels of their skin has not been penetrated by the UV. A tan produced in a tanning bed does not provide natural protection above what a white skin has. It is not advisable to tan indoors and outdoors on the same day because there is a risk of overexposure, which actually destroys melanin and sunburn and result to less tanning. Also, overexposure increases the chances for skin cancer.

Known side effects

Known artificial tanning side effects from UV exposure include skin wrinkling and aging at a faster rate, mutation of DNA, weakening of the immune system and even cancer. Using a tanning bed without goggles may also lead to an eye condition known as arc eye. While these side effects may also be caused by tanning from the natural sun, it is believed that artificial tanning in tanning beds are worse due to the varied spectrum and higher intensity of the artificial light. Because of the adverse tanning side effects on human health, the use of UV tanning beds for cosmetic purposes is not recommended by the World Health Organization.

Cancer risks

The US Public Health Service states that UV radiation, including those from sun beds and sun lamps, are known to be carcinogens or cancer causing agents. People under 30 should also be more cautious about too much exposure to UV radiation as the risk of developing cancer in later years is greater for younger people with light-colored skin. It was found that 55% of young women who visited tanning salons at least once a month were more likely to develop melanoma compared to women who do not get a tan artificially. Young women in their 20s who get a tan using sun lamps have the largest risk of developing cancer, about 150% higher than women of the same age who did not go to tanning salons. There is significant evidence that the three main types of skin cancer—squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), basal cell carcinoma (BCC), and melanoma are caused by UV radiation and sun exposure. UV radiation also induces genetic mutations including 6-4 photo products (6-4PPs) and its Dewar valence isomers, as well as cyclobutane-pyrimidine dimmers (CPDs). Depending on which genes are mutated, mutant cells may die or develop into cancer. Those people who are frequent in tanning salons should consider this risk and side effects.

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