Skin Cancer Treatment Doctor Busts Myths About Tanning Beds
Skin cancer treatment doctor wants you to know the risks of using a tanning bed
Skin cancer treatment specialist and board certified dermatologist wants everyone to understand how harmful it is to use a tanning bed. Having a tan, or a natural glow, is very popular in our current culture especially during the summer months. Many people will go to a tanning salon to get a tan because they believe that it makes them look better in a swimsuit. Some people even become addicted to tanning, and will feel uneasy and agitated when they dont go tanning. There are many myths that are circulating currently that dismiss the dangers of using a tanning bed, and this skin cancer treatment doctor wants to bust these myths that are dangerous not only for you skin, but also for your overall health.
Myth #1 tanning once or twice a year doesnt cause damage
Myth #2 tanning for short periods is less harmful than sitting out in the sun for a long time
This is a myth that needs to be exposed for its falsehoods. Lying out in the sun is in fact safer than a tanning bed. If you use a tanning bed younger than 35, your risk of developing melanoma is increased by 75%. Minimize your chance of needing skin cancer treatment by staying away from tanning beds.
Myth #3 tanning beds increase your vitamin D levels
Metrolina Dermatology your Charlotte Mohs surgeon and skin cancer treatment specialist
Rating: 9 out of 10
What Is 5 Minutes In A Tanning Bed Equivalent To
Tanning beds emit 3-6 times the amount of radiation given off by the sun. For most people, 5-10 minutes of unprotected sun 2-3 times a week is enough to help your skin make Vitamin D, which is essential for your health. Getting more sun wont increase your Vitamin D level, but it will increase your risk of skin cancer.
Treatment Options For Skin Cancer
The goal of any skin cancer treatment is to remove the cancer before it has a chance to spread. If the skin cancer has spread to nearby tissues or organs, treating the cancer becomes more difficult. If it hasnt spread, though, treating skin cancer is often very successful.
Treatment options include:
- Surgery. Surgically removing the cancerous spot is a common option. In some cases, the spot can be removed easily in a doctors office. More advanced cases may require in-depth surgery.
- Cryosurgery. This type of surgery freezes the affected skin, killing the cancerous cells. Over time, the dead skin cells fall off.
- Immunotherapy. Immunotherapy uses a persons immune system to target and destroy cancer. In the case of skin cancer, a medicated cream is applied to the cancerous area. The immune system then works to destroy the cancer.
- Chemotherapy. If skin cancer has progressed beyond the skin, chemotherapy can help target and kill any cancer cells surgery cant remove. Chemotherapy comes in several forms, including oral medication, injected shots, and IV infusions. It can even be applied to the skin.
- Radiation therapy. Radiation seeks out and destroys cancer cells. Radiation is used to treat a larger area, or an area thats too difficult to treat with surgery.
- In this type of therapy, a chemical is applied to the skin cancer. After staying on the skin for many hours, the skin is exposed to a special light, destroying the cancer cells.
You May Like: Does Amelanotic Melanoma Blanch When Pressed
How Long Do You Sit In A Tanning Bed
Your first tanning session should last around five to seven minutes. For people with fair skin, this might be the maximum time they spend in a tanning bed even during later sessions. People with darker skin can add a minute every session until they reach the amount of time they want to spend in the tanning bed.
The Risks Of Using Tanning Beds
When UV rays from the sun penetrate the lower layers of your skin, it prompts the cells to create a brown pigment called melanin. By darkening your skin, melanin protects it from further sun damage. A by-product of this is that your skin becomes tan.
While your tan may cause you to become the envy of all who see you, it also has more unfortunate consequences. Strong UV rays can actually change the DNA in your skin cells, which is what we think causes skin cancer. Each time you tan, your risk of developing skin cancer increases. Furthermore, tanning can put you at high risk for the most dangerous of skin cancers, melanoma. About 90% of melanoma cases are caused by UV exposure whether that comes from the sun or from tanning beds.
People often think tanning indoors is safer than lying out in the sun, and its easy to see why, especially since many tanning studios promote this idea. Sadly, though, its not true. In fact, the evidence suggests that indoor tanning is more dangerous than outdoor sun tanning. This may be because indoor tanning exposes your skin to UV light at a steady, unchanging intensity, whereas sun exposure varies based on factors like weather and cloud cover. Of course, any kind of tanning can lead to skin cancer, so we wouldnt suggest merely swapping one form of tanning for another.
You May Like: Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Survival
No There Is No Safe Level Of Exposure To Tanning Beds
For almost 10 years I promoted indoor tanning, the very thing that increased my risk for the cancer that threatened my life and the life of my baby. Now I wish I could take back every positive word about tanning salons that I ever said or wrote to my customers, friends, and family. For the rest of my life, I will promote skin cancer prevention and dedicate all that I have to keep even 1 person from enduring a single ounce of the pain that I experienced with melanoma.
How Often Should You Be Getting Screened
“I generally recommend that someone with no risk factors get a skin cancer screening once a year by a board-certified dermatologist,”Sejal Shah, a dermatologist in New York City, tells Allure.
Official recommendations on this are murky, however. In 2016, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force concluded that there’s not currently enough evidence to recommend regular skin cancer screenings by a primary care provider for individuals 15 and older with no history of skin cancer. But the American Academy of Dermatology Association issued a statement disagreeing with the findings and the USPSTF’s recommendation, saying “early detection is vital in the fight against skin cancer.”
Interestingly, the study found that indoor tanners were actually more likely to get regular recommended screenings than non-tanners. “Some of them may realize â particularly once they have given up indoor tanning â that they are at higher risk for skin cancer,” Heckman explains. According to the findings, about 30 percent of tanners had been screened for skin cancer by a doctor . The study also found that tanners were likely to start getting screened younger than non-tanners.
Also Check: Grade 3 Cancer Treatment
Growing Up I Equated Bronze With Beauty
I grew up tanning alongside my parents who bought into the mass-marketed idea that theres no beauty without bronze.
As the legend goes, in the 1920s fashion icon Coco Chanel came back from a Mediterranean cruise with a dark tan and sent pop culture, which had pretty much always valued pale complexions, into a frenzy. And Western civilizations obsession with the tan was born.
In the 50s and 60s, surf culture went mainstream and the tan hype got even more extreme. It wasnt only beautiful to be tan, it was an ode to the body and a challenge to conservatism. And Southern California, former home to both of my parents, was ground zero.
My dad graduated high school outside of Los Angeles in 1971, the same year a bronzed Malibu Barbie premiered, beach-ready in a bathing suit and sunglasses. And my mom spent summers as a teenager gallivanting around Venice Beach.
If they did use sunscreen or take precautionary sun measures in those days, it was only enough to ward off serious burns because Ive seen the photos, and their bodies glowed copper.
However, the obsession with tan skin didnt end with my parents generation. In many ways, it only got worse. The bronzed look remained popular through the 90s and early 2000s, and tanning technology only seemed to get more advanced. Thanks to tanning beds, you didnt even have to live near a beach.
Dont Miss: How Do You Treat Skin Cancer
Why Do People Use Indoor Tanning
Even though indoor tanning isnt safe, some people still use it. But their reasons may not be valid.
- People may believe that indoor tanning can give them a base tan that protects them from getting a sunburn while outdoors. But a tan is how your skin responds to injurygetting a tan is a sign that your skin has already been damaged.
- People may believe that they can avoid sunburn by using indoor tanning. But if you stay under the artificial light too long or at too high an intensity, you can get a sunburn.
- People may say they use indoor tanning to get vitamin D in the winter, when there is less sunlight. You can do this, but you can get vitamin D from a healthy diet or a vitamin supplement and avoid the risk of cancer.
Recommended Reading: Is Squamous Cell Carcinoma Slow Growing
Read Also: Prognosis For Skin Cancer
Who: Tanning Beds Cause Cancer
Indoor Tanning Causes Melanoma, Report Shows
July 28, 2009 – A leading global cancer research group is declaring tanning bed use a significant cancer hazard.
The World Health Organizationâs International Agency for Research on Cancer announced today that it has moved UV tanning beds to its highest cancer risk category — “carcinogenic to humans.”
Prior to the move, the group had classified sun lamp and tanning bed use as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
In an interview with WebMD, the IARCâs Vincent Cogliano, PhD, called the scientific evidence linking indoor tanning to the deadly skin cancer melanoma âsufficient and compelling.â
A dramatic rise in melanoma, especially among young women, has been seen in recent years.
Cogliano said studies conducted over the past decade provide an âan abundance of evidenceâ that tanning bed use has played a role in this rise, along with direct sun exposure.
âPeople mistakenly see a tan as a sign of health when it is actually a sign of damage to the skin,â he says.
Mayo Clinic Q And A: Tanning Beds Raise Risk For Skin Cancer
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: My daughter and her friends are all talking about going to a tanning bed before prom. I suggested to my daughter that she get a spray tan instead, but I dont think Ive convinced her since shes under the impression that tanning beds are somewhat safe. Is there any kind of tanning bed that is safe and that wont damage the skin?
ANSWER: Theres no such thing as a safe tanning bed, and there arent any tanning beds that dont damage the skin. Encourage your daughter to avoid tanning beds altogether. Choosing a spray tan instead to get the look she wants for prom is a much better option that wont harm her skin.
Because tanning beds have been around for so long, many people believe using them to get a tan is a safer than exposure to sunlight. That is not true. Exposure to ultraviolet, or UV, radiation damages your skin, whether the exposure comes from tanning beds or natural sunlight.
The type of UV radiation emitted by most tanning beds is called UVA. Exposure to UVA prematurely ages your skin, causing wrinkling and age spots. It also raises the risk for skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Because of the health dangers, the Food and Drug Administration now requires all tanning beds to carry a warning label stating that people under 18 should not use them. Several states have passed laws against children and teens using tanning beds. Many dermatologists would like to see tanning beds outlawed for everyone.
Also Check: Invasive Lobular Breast Cancer Survival Rate
The Link Between Tanning Beds And Skin Cancer
Imagine if there were a button that you could push and in just a few minutes your whole body could develop an even, golden-brown tan. For those of you reading this who are fair-skinned, I know what youre thinking: if only Apple had an app for that! Well, the good news is that this technology does exist and has been available in the US since 1979. Its called a tanning bed. The bad news is that research continues to prove that tanning beds are not a safe alternative to sunbathing and have many undesirable side effects including, the most important side effect, skin cancer.
Have you ever heard any of the following so-called truths?
1. Indoor tanning is safer than tanning in the sun.2. Indoor tanning creates a base tan that will protect against getting a sunburn.3. Indoor tanning is a great way to get Vitamin D.
The truth is, despite what commercials and other forms of advertising lead you to believe, indoor tanning is not safe. There is no form of a safe tan, whether it is obtained at the beach from the sun or produced artificially from an indoor tanning bed. It is a well-established fact that ultraviolet radiation from the sun causes skin cancer. Because the lamps that are used in tanning beds also emit ultraviolet radiation, indoor tanning machines also increase your risk of skin cancer.
The following skin cancer statistics help us understand the cause for concern:
And the following data are specific to the health risks of indoor tanning:
Myths Of Indoor Tanning Busted
Deborah S. Sarnoff, MD
Myth 1: Year-round UV exposure is essential for vitamin D and good health.
Most skin cancers are caused by harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun or from UV tanning machines. The UVB rays cause sunburn, while UVA rays lead to tanning as well as skin aging. Its the UVB rays that interact with a protein in the skin to convert it into vitamin D. Tanning beds mostly emit UVA rays, which wont improve your vitamin D level.
Just a few years ago, vitamin D was being hyped as a cure-all for many ailments. While some of those health claims have not panned out in scientific literature, getting enough D is crucial for bone health. Most people get enough vitamin D from incidental sun exposure on the face and hands in just a few minutes a day. For those in northern climates in the winter, fortified foods and a supplement can fill in the gaps. Additional UV exposure over the minimum does not further increase vitamin D levels, but it certainly increases your risk for skin cancer.
Myth 2: Indoor tanning is safer than suntanning.
Myth 3:A base tan before a vacation prevents more dangerous sun damage.
Back then, we just didnt understand the danger. Now we know that any tan is a manifestation of DNA damage in the skin cells, just as sunburn is. The damage starts happening immediately, and its not cute when you see new freckles on your nose. We know how dangerous this is now, so why would young girls be doing that to themselves?
Don’t Miss: Clear Cell Carcinoma Symptoms
Is It Bad To Tan With Coconut Oil
Although coconut oil can benefit your skin in many ways, it isnt advisable to use it for tanning. While it offers some protection from the suns damaging UV rays, it doesnt offer a high enough level of protection to prevent you from getting sunburned or suffering other types of long-lasting skin damage.
Still Thinking Of Using A Sunbed
If you are still thinking of using a sunbed please think again. Sunbed uses increases your risk of skin cancer, whatever your age, sex and skin type. But, some people are at greater risk that others and should not use a sunbed under any circumstances.
This includes you if:
- You have fair or freckled skin
- Your skin always burns and never tans or burns before it tans
- You have a lot of moles
- You have had skin cancer or a family member has had skin cancer
- You use cosmetics or take medications that make your skin more sensitive to UV rays.
If you are unsure whether the cosmetics or medication you use affect your risk, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
Read Also: Stage 3 Cancer Symptoms
Myth : Its Ok As Long As Im Not A Frequent User Of A Tanning Salon
So you want to go to a tanning salon “just this one time” to get that sun-kissed look for a special event? Skip it, researchers say.
According to a systematic review of research by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, any use of a tanning bed before age 35 is associated with a 75 percent increase in risk for melanoma. The reviewers also identified an increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma, one of the most common types of skin cancer, from tanning bed use before one’s mid-30s.
The increase in risk from even limited use of tanning beds is âso impressive and disturbing,â Lee said. âEach time is hugely damaging.â
Also, a growing body of evidence supports the idea that tanning has an addictive quality. Exposure to UV releases endorphins, the âpleasure chemicalâ of the human body that stimulates the brainâs reward center. But that rush can be dangerous.
âThere are some people who are prone to addictive behavior who are prone to suntanning for the same reasons,â Cranmer said.
What Age Does Skin Cancer Commonly Develop
The older you get, the higher your chance for developing skin cancer. About half of all Americans will develop either BCC or SCC at least once by the time theyre 65. The average age of a melanoma diagnosis is 63, notes the American Cancer Society.
But melanoma is also one of the most frequently occurring cancers in young adults, especially women. Overall, melanoma occurs more frequently in women than in men before age 50. By age 65, twice as many men than women have melanoma. Rates triple by age 80.
Long-term exposure to the suns UV rays increases a persons chances of developing skin cancer. Artificial UV light, as found in indoor tanning beds, is also a culprit. It accounts for approximately of skin cancer each year in the United States, estimates a 2014 review and meta-analysis.
The Skin Cancer Foundation goes on to report that indoor tanning beds account for:
- 245,000 cases of BCC
- 168,000 cases of SCC
- 6,200 cases of melanoma
Any history of tanning bed use increases the risk of BCC before age 40 by 69 percent.
Although were more educated and aware of skin cancer risks, the number of new cases has been climbing for 30 years even among younger Americans. In the United States, cases of BCC and SCC among men and women under age 40 are increasing. New cases in children are also on the rise.
Read Also: Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Survival Rate