Tanning devices have been around since the 1970s, but the tanning salon, complete with a tanning bed, has only exploded in numbers since about 1990. It is now a $5 to $7 billion dollar per anum business, and growing.
Ironically, the expansion of the industry has largely been due to a growing concern about the negative health effects of sun burning, particularly skin cancer and premature aging. While sunburns are caused primarily by exposure to UVB, people have not understood that while UVA does not typically burn, it does significant harm. UVA penetrates the skin more deeply, compromising the immune system - our natural defense to cancer - and impacts many skin cell types and structures.
In May 2000 the National Toxicity Program and the National Institute for Health added tanning beds and sun lamps to the list of known carcinogens. Still, the number of people who use them continues to rise.
Teenagers ages 12 to 17 are visiting tanning salons in record numbers. This presents a whole new level of concern, as many studies have shown that the risk for skin cancer increases as well as the risk that it will occur at a much younger age.
Despite this clear correlation, only three states, Texas, Illinois and Wisconsin, have laws to keep children from using tanning beds. We believe if lawmakers understood the risk, they could not only create laws to protect children, they would initiate education programs about the harmfulness of tanning beds and the need for sun protection. Further, if a modest user fee – approximately 2% - was added to tanning salon services, it would provide over $100 million per annum - an amount that would provide full and permanent funding for a national sun protection education campaign.
Tanning beds do not provide a safe tan, there is no such thing.
Tans porvide minimal protection against sun damage.
You do not need a tan to get enough vitamin D (most enriched foods offer enough).
Tanning bed exposure may compromise your immune system.
Tanning bed exposure may trigger the onset of lupus or exacerbate lupus symptoms.
Tanning bed exposure is directly linked to skin cancer.
Only people who have specific skin problems or are under direct instructions from their doctors should ever use a tanning bed.