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Why Are Tanning Beds Bad?

Even 1 Trip to the Tanning Bed Isn't Worth the Risk


Source: Shutterstock

After growing up in sunny Florida and heading into my freshman year in Michigan, spending time in tanning beds was a staple of my weekly Winter routine. But after experiencing my first skin cancer scare when I was just 19, I knew it was time to pull the plug on this dangerous habit. I wish I could say that my experience was rare, but the research proves just the opposite: people who start using sunbeds under the age of 35 increase their skin cancer risk by 75 percent.

When the weather cools off, it can be tough to say no to even an occasional trip to the tanning bed. But it's important to know that every time you turn on those UV lights and lay down, you're seriously hurting your skin. Not only are you affecting your risk of cancer, you're also changing your skin's texture, which means you're more likely to experience premature aging in the form of wrinkles and sun spots.


Source: NBC

Even with the best intentions, research explains why it's so hard for sun worshippers to say no to tanning beds. One animal study from earlier this Summer might be the proof that tanning is addictive. When mice were exposed to UV rays in this study, their bodies released feel-good endorphins that are similar to those released from opiate use, the category of drugs that includes heroin and morphine.

Luckily, it is possible for most people to kick a bad tanning-bed habit on their own. If you tend to head to the tanning studio to stay warm during Winter, heat up in a steam room or sauna instead. Laying down in one of these hot rooms can have a similarly relaxing effect on your body without any of the serious risks. And if you can't imagine living without a bit of a golden glow, invest in a quality self-tanner or get a professional spray tan. These changes might take a little getting used to, but they will slash your risk of cancer and can save your precious skin.


Source: Bravo; Front Page Image Source: Shutterstock

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Join The Conversation
EmyAnne EmyAnne 7 years
Can you reverse your chances of skin cancer once you've stopped tanning or have I already screwed myself over? Around age 15 or 16 up until I was 19 I used to tan pretty regularly. (i'm 21 now) but finally made myself quit. Have i already done the damage?
aimeeb aimeeb 7 years
I'll pas son the cancer and wrinkles...thanks.
eeeyore138 eeeyore138 7 years
Has anyone ever tried the Mistic tanning - its the spray tan at a tanning salon. Not only is it quick but it gives you a great even tan thats not orange! It smells great and makes you skin super soft. I love the way regular tanning feels especially up in the cold northeast but its not worth the risk of cancer so I haven't been in one since college.
ella1978 ella1978 7 years
Another pale girl reporting. I have used tanning beds in the past, infact my MOTHER made me go before my senior prom & I burned badly! I didn't think much about it then, and probably tanned on and off for the next 3 years, but then I started to learn a thing or two about how bad those things are for you. I worry every day about every new mole or freckle that appears. As I age & get sun, I get TOTALLY freckled. I just hope that I didn't get too much damage from that one bad burn. I wear minimum of SPF 15 on my face and hands every day. I'm glad to see that now moisturizing lotions are adding spf in them, and will be picking up one of those brands for my summer skin! My mother still tans a lot, I just pray that it isn't hurting her at all. I'm not a fan either fit.
shelleybaby32 shelleybaby32 7 years
I have been wearing sunblock on my face for almost 10 years now. I always wear it year round. My mother was out in the garden yesterday and came in cheerfully stating how she already got some sun. I told her 90% of wrinkles come from the sun exposure and she didn't believe me! I said she was crazy!
flutterpie flutterpie 7 years
besides the whole cancer thing, i have the best reason to not tan. when i was 15 i got sunburned really bad on my chest, i had a circle of dried, dead skin for months. fast forward to i had few more bad sunburns and some run ins with a tanning bed but i was always sure to protect my face. im 28 and i am constantly told how i look 22 or 23 (21 if im having a good day) but my chest, the one that kept getting exposed, looks thirty. im telling all the bronzed goddesses out there, in 20 years you will be injecting yourself with stuff trying to look as good as us pale girls.
sundaygreen sundaygreen 7 years
it really is comparable to smoking, isn't it.
leeluvfashion leeluvfashion 7 years
I hate tanning beds. I will never go in one for two reasons: 1) the cancer factor and 2) the machine scares the s*** out of me. So I will stay a nice shade of fair and lessen my risk of cancer. If only my friend would see it the same way I do; she is under 20yrs old and goes to a tanning bed 3+ times a month; there is no convincing her otherwise. You could tell her that she'll get cancer and it goes in one ear and out the other.
phatE phatE 7 years
grass is always greener on the other side eh? I am sorry I offended you so much, that wasn't my intent.. I don't think it looks natural for people who are naturally very fair to have dark tans and most of my friends who fall under that category agree. I really don't appreciate your weight reference.. Try to take an objective look on where I am coming from before going off.
javsmav javsmav 7 years
phatE, sorry, but I have to disagree with you. So called "pale" olive skin is NOT pale. You don't realize how frickin' lucky you are to have gorgeous skin!! Nothing pisses me off more than my darker skin friends complaining about being pale when their skin is 50 shades darker than mine. And it's complete BS to say that it looks pale skin looks good on pale people, but you have to tan to look good. It's like being underweight & complaining to your fat friend about not being able to eat a piece of cake and telling her that she looks good curvy but you have to be skinny. It's just mean.
emily-violet emily-violet 7 years
Tanning fades tattoos, no thanks.
phatE phatE 7 years
i love how all of you who say this are self proclaimed "white, pale, snow white" girls.. you are the group that is more at risk, and should be very aware of the possible consequences that come from being out in the sun because you are more likely to have them.. it's a fact, statistic, and it's great you choose to cover your body and not put yourself out there.. but remember that there are different skin types, and not all people have the same incredibly high risk as you do.. so, please stop saying that people put vanity first, and don't care of they die.. that's a load of crap, and i being darker skin am cautious but STILL occasionally tan. pale skin on PALE people is beautiful but on people with olive skin, it's attractive. self proclaimed snow whites can pull it off,but some of pochantus chics can't.. i am not unrealistic.. i know i am not immune to skin cancer, but because of my skin type, background, ethnicity etc it's alot less likely to happen. everyone can take it to an extreme, but for those who don't.. but still enjoy the sun, but also wear sun screen, know their family history and watch their body for new marks, etc. don't automatically categorize it. this is a common trend.. heaven forbid i drink diet coke and get sun.. according to fitsugar and the rest of you i might as well be considered a chronic smoker who is obese..
bailaoragaditana bailaoragaditana 7 years
I'm pretty much snow white, but I've gotten used to it, and I'd rather be alabaster than red (my skin doesn't do tan - it does white, red & peeling, and raw pink). And fake tanners just look hilarious on me. I rather like the paleness now. No tanning - beds, beaches, or bottles - for me, thanks.
Smilesp Smilesp 7 years
When I was in high school I would get so mad at my friends who tanned because its sooo bad for you. In college I guess I gave into the peer pressure and started doing it too. In 2 days I'm having a biopsy to see if I have skin cancer. It's not worth it...skin cancer isn't just something that happens to other people, it can happen to you too!!
geekygirl geekygirl 7 years
hey bronze beauty some thoughts on your idea about outdoor workers not getting cancer: a) do you know any well enough that they would share with you they just got a cancer cut out? it's not exactly something they are going to be advertising on the nightly news b) most people who work outside take precautionary measures - i work outside from time to time and 90% of my friends work outside all day (ringers - think you'd call them cowboys) and we always wear broad brim hats, long-sleeved shirts with the collar up, long pants, boots and sunglasses (you can do major eye damage if you don't protect them from the sun). Always slather on the sunscreen - especially on our faces and backs of our hands. We do not ever work outside without sun protection, it's just not worth it. c) almost everyone i know over forty who has worked outside and/or spent a lot of time doing recreation outside has had melanoma/s. Maybe Australians are a lot more vigilant because skin cancer is very common here but you're being naive if you think sun exposure isn't damaging you - apart from anything else you'll seriously speed up the aging process. Sorry for the two long posts! I just get rather worked up about this topic.
geekygirl geekygirl 7 years
Anyone of you guys who things tanning can't lead to melanoma (skin cancer) are cracked in the head. If you must get a tan, get a spray tan. In Australia we have some of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world and it is definitely caused by sun exposure. If you live somewhere that doesn't have consistent high UV levels, don't be dumb enough to go baking yourself at a solarium - rejoice in the fact you are likely to avoiding skin cancer. If you think it can't happen to you check out http://www.clareolivermelanomafund.org/HTMLPages/clareolivermelanomafund.htm This girl was only 26 when she died of melanoma attributed to her use of solariums. The Australian government and Australian Cancer Council are currently investigating the banning of solariums in Australia. GET A GRIP YOU MAD TANNERS - IT'S NOT A SCARE CAMPAIGN!!!!
halochick halochick 7 years
I got sunburned on my face when I went to a concert a couple years ago and since then I've been scared to be out in the sun for more than 15 minutes. I have naturally tan/dark skin. Now I don't leave my house without SPF on face.
Spectra Spectra 7 years
The reason that most darker-skinned people (Latinos, Blacks, etc.) don't get skin cancer as often is because they are born with more melanin in their skin to protect them from the UV rays. Pale-skinned people have less melanin, so it's more dangerous for them to be exposed to too much sun.
hadassah hadassah 7 years
I'm not pale -- I'm snow freaking white. I live in a college town in the south, where there is a tanning bed on every corner, plus sunshine 85% of the year. I get teased constantly for being so pale, and I hate it. No matter how much time I spend in the sun, the color of my skin - especially my legs -- does not budge. I've tanned once - for a month before my senior prom -- with actual success, but a few months later, had to get a suspicious mole removed. It was benign, but I still don't tan anymore. I may hate my skin (no matter how horrible that sounds, I feel SO sickly looking with my white skin), but I just dream about the day I can live somewhere where orange skin with bleached blonde hair is NOT the standard of beauty -- gotta love Louisiana.
VicVicVictooriaa VicVicVictooriaa 7 years
i know all of this but I still go because i went to florida 2 weeks ago and while my entire family got sun poisoning, i did not after only going 3 times before we went.
cahill cahill 7 years
as a reformed tanorexic, i know how hard it is to stop tanning. i feel like i look ill, fatter and just plain gross. but after hearing far too many stories about young women my age and having my dermatologist know i go tanning (without me telling her) i've stopped. cold turkey. and for those that say you can't get a perfect tan with fake tanner, use the money from going to tanning booths/beds and go to a great mystic tan salon. your skin will thank you later.
gumdrops334 gumdrops334 7 years
I tanned for a month before my prom a few years ago. A few things: 1. I don't think I've ever looked sexier in my life. Every time I tried clothes on, I felt just...hot! I looked good in everything! 2. Tanning is very addicting. Two reasons: see above, and makes your body release endorphins 3. I don't tan anymore, even though my apartment offers free tanning. However, I am not completely against getting a little sun now and then. It's healthy and uplifting. Not to mention, the people who get skin cancer from tanning beds are probably those we would call "tanorexics"...those people who are addicted to tanning, and do it pretty much everyday.
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