Frequently Asked Questions
User safety, common myths and more about the dangers of tanning beds.
Are indoor tanning beds more dangerous for children and young people?
Yes, young people who start indoor tanning before the age of 35 increase their risk of melanoma by 59 percent. Adolescents are particularly at risk to the damages associated with UV radiation and overexposure as their skin is not fully developed and their skin cells are dividing and changing more rapidly than those of adults.**
Isn’t it safe for a teenager to use a tanning bed once or twice – for prom, for example?
No, even a single use of a tanning bed increases users’ chances of developing melanoma by 20 percent, and each additional session during the same year boosts the risk almost another 2 percent.
Isn’t using a tanning bed just like sitting in the sun?
No, the ultraviolet radiation from a tanning bed can be as much as 15 times stronger than the sun and provides a massive dose of radiation in a very short time. In addition, radiation from the sun includes UV-B radiation that causes sunburn and provides a warning when a person has been out in the sun too long. Indoor tanning beds use only UV-A radiation, which can damage the skin without burning, often leading indoor tanning bed users to risk their health without knowing it.
Aren’t tanning beds a good method of taking in vitamin D?
Indoor tanning proponents cite the link between UV exposure and vitamin D synthesis to support the health benefits of indoor tanning. However, UV-B rays are the primary source of vitamin D synthesis, while most tanning devices primarily emit UV-A, which penetrates the skin more deeply that UV-B and is relatively ineffective in stimulating vitamin D synthesis. In addition, vitamin D can be obtained through many different foods* and vitamin supplements.
What are other states doing regarding the regulation of tanning beds?
More than 30 states currently regulate the use of tanning facilities by adolescents and six states, California, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, Texas and Vermont, have passed legislation banning tanning bed usage for minors under the age of 18. The cities of Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, have also approved similar bans on teen tanning bed use.
Won’t banning teen tanning bed use hurt the tanning bed industry?
No. A number of tanning bed operators already prohibit minors from using their facilities and many tanning salons offer spray-on tans, which are safe and cost more than indoor tanning beds. If North Carolina approves legislation to protect teens from indoor tanning beds, these teens will shift to spray-on tans, creating a potentially more lucrative market for the tanning industry. Protecting teens from skin cancer will also save millions in healthcare costs and lost wages.
How much does skin cancer cost?
According to the National Cancer Institute, the estimated total direct cost associated with the treatment of melanoma in the US in 2010 was $2.36 billion. The total direct coast associated with treating non-melanoma skin cancer in 2004 was $1.5 billion, $1.2 billion of which was attributed to care received in a physician’s office. These figures do not include emergency room visits from tanning bed injuries and mishaps; nor do they begin to account for the tragic loss of life associated with indoor tanning-related skin cancer. And these costs will on increase; an individual’s chance of getting melanoma are expected to rise to 1 in 50 by the year 2015.