Face the Facts on Skin Cancer Risks and Tanning


As summer winds down, some women and teen girls are heading to tanning salons to prolong their sun-kissed glow. This indoor tanning trend continues—despite warnings from the American Cancer Society, despite the FDA proposing restrictions on tanning bed access for minors, and despite a recent wave of social media selfies posted by lifelong tanning bed patrons revealing severe skin cancer wounds.

Instead of jeopardizing your skin and health, it’s time to face the facts about sun tanning and skin cancer risks, and consider safer ways to get your glow on (sunless tanner, anyone?).

MYTH #1: Skin cancer is more of a concern for older adults.

Though melanoma (the deadliest type of skin cancer) is most commonly diagnosed in adults over 60, the American Academy of Dermatology ranks melanoma as the second most common form of cancer for women aged 15 to 29—and it’s a disease that’s growing faster among females than males. Exposure to UV light is also the most preventable risk factor, so why not take steps to spare your skin? That means applying broad spectrum sunscreen daily and wearing protective clothing.

MYTH #2: A few tanning sessions a month won’t do much harm.

This reasoning follows a slippery slope, because the potential damage to your skin seriously adds up over time. The risk of melanoma is about 60% higher for people who began using indoor tanning devices before the age of 35, and melanoma risk increases with the number of total hours, sessions, or years used. In short, the younger you start tanning, the greater your risk of developing skin cancer.

MYTH #3: Artificial tanning lamps aren’t as dangerous as the sun’s rays.

Within seconds of entering a tanning bed, your body is exposed to roughly 12 times more ultraviolet (UVA) light than you’d get from the sun. That’s UVA, as in the “aging” rays, which penetrate deep into the dermis, causing wrinkles, dark spots, skin cell damage, and—most concerning—DNA mutations that may eventually lead to skin cancer. Research shows that indoor tanning may cause upwards of 400,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. each year.

MYTH #4: Tanning is the main cause of skin cancer.

While tanning doesn’t automatically cause melanoma, ultraviolet exposure (from the sun or tanning beds) does greatly increase your risk of melanoma, as shown by numerous studies. Even weighed against other contributing factors of skin cancer risk (having fair skin that burns easily, being a redhead who freckles, and having a history of blistering childhood sunburns), exposure to UV light is still the most preventable risk factor for all skin cancers.

Why jeopardize your health, when you can achieve a natural, safer tan that’s made in the shade? Show off a radiant glow year-round with ESSENTIALS Foaming Sunless Tan. And of course, avoid the sun and apply broad spectrum UVA sunscreen when headed outside.

Get skin savvy this fall and spread the word that healthy skin is beautiful skin.

SHARE these debunked myths with friends and family to warn them about the risks of tanning.

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  1. My sister loves to go tanning, but I don’t think that she realizes that that contributes to skin cancer. She says that because she is getting it from the sun and not the tanning beds that it is okay. However, do you happen to know which method contributes more to melanoma than the other?

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