how are sun beds different to natural UV radiation and why are they considered so bad (and worse)?

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I’d like to use a course of treatment to generate a natural tan before an upcoming event, but the online advice is very strongly anti. How is it so much worse than natural tanning outside?

In: Biology

2 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

UVB radiation is about the same, but UVA radiation in a tanning bed can be [anywhere from 10 to 15 times stronger](https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12511047/#:~:text=Sunbed%20emission%20spectra%20are%20similar,m2%20was%20determined%20for%20sunbeds.) compared to noon on a sunny mid-summer day.

UVB is generally considered more dangerous, as it is higher-energy, penetrates deeper, and is the primary source of sunburn (and thus skin cancer). But UVA damages DNA as well, which causes skin aging and can cause cancer as well.

Neither is considered safe. The FDA recommends that you do not tan no matter what the source. If your skin is darkening, it is producing more melatonin. Skin only does that when it has been damaged, and if your skin has been damaged there is a possibility that it is causing cancer or keratoses.

Tanning doesn’t provide your skin any protection – a heavy tan is equivalent to around 5 SPF. You should be applying at least 15, probably far more.

In short, there is zero reason to tan, and lots of potential hazards, more prominently potentially-fatal cancer. Do not tan inside or out, but if you do, out is far safer.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Tanning in general increases your risk of skin cancer. Tanning beds work by giving you an even higher dose of the type of UV light that causes both tanning and skin cancer. There’s no clear evidence that this high dose for a short time is better or worse, healthwise, than the low dose for a long time you get from the sun, but neither is great. Research shows that people who use tanning beds have skin cancer rates nearly twice as high as those who don’t.

The sad truth is that tanning and skin cancer are inextricably linked. You just can’t have one without the other. So you have to ask yourself whether exposing yourself to that risk is worth getting the tan. If you decide it is, then the only real consideration between a tanning bed and laying out in the sun is whether you want to pay for the faster tan in the salon.