The Truth About Tanning Beds

I have to admit that I have been seduced by the idea of the tanning bed. All you have to do is lie down in a bright room for a few minutes and walk out with gorgeous tan skin? Sign me up! If 28 million Americans are tanning in beds and booths every year, there must be no harm in it, right? Wrong… like any other seemingly easy fix, it comes at a high price – and not just from your bank account!

Dr. Felix Müller invented the first tanning unit with UV lamps for the public consumer in 1956. Fifty-five years later, tanning beds and stand-up booths are made up of high pressure bulbs that hold a higher ratio of UVA light than that of the atmosphere. The UVA and UVB lamps used in tanning beds are 2-3 times stronger than then sun because of the pressure levels and proximity to your body. Call me crazy, but I’d think twice before entering any device that claims to be stronger than the sun itself!

Low pressure beds and booths are also an option, and are recommended for beginners because of their low pressure release of only UVB rays. I find this recommendation completely ridiculous considering that UVB rays are the most harmful to your skin! Because of their deep penetration, UVB rays are the leading cause of skin cancer. It has been proven that indoor tanning increases your risk of developing melanoma by 74%. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, killing approximately 8,650 Americans in 2009.”

Even the kids on the Jersey shore have come to realize the life-threatening effects of indoor tanning! On an episode of Extra, Dr. Deborah Sarnoff, the Vice President of the Skin Cancer Foundation, did a life changing intervention with the cast of Jersey Shore to enlighten them about the dangers of the “T” in their daily GTL. Pauly D even admitted that he was going to put his tanning bed up on craigslist! Whatever happened to the age of the parasol and the over-sized hat?