Are tanning beds really as deadly as arsenic and mustard gas?

By Courtney Lane - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - "Tanning beds are just as deadly as arsenic and mustard gas," that's what international cancer experts after claiming after compiling about 20 studies. They've now moved tanning beds and other sources of ultraviolet radiation to the top cancer risk category. That's a pretty powerful claim.

Dermatologist Jennifer Holman says the findings re-emphasize the dangers.

"In the past, people had justified using tanning beds by saying there's more UVA than UVB, as in natural sunlight, but, now, this study just supports that UVA is a known carcinogen just like that UVB is and moves it up on the list," explained Holman.

However Kaelyn Allen with Cool Tanz, says the studies do not provide definite proof that tanning beds cause cancer.

"Dermatologists are scaring them so much [saying] that the tanning bed is so horrible for you, but do they realize that you step out in the sun every single day?" said Allen. "If people actually understood the facts of tanning and the time that you come in to tan, the proper products to use, the right protective eyewear, I promise you, everybody would come in here and tan instead of stepping out in the sunlight."

Holman says it's the cumulative exposure that can become deadly, as with smoking. The latest studies show risk of skin cancer jumps 75% in those who start using a tanning bed before the age of 30.

"Melanoma is the second leading cause of cancer in young adults ages 15 to 29 and we've watched, especially in females, that incident has risen every year," said Holman. "Biopsies before and after using a tanning bed have shown that genetic damage."

"I am promising you that tanning next to a pool using baby oil and iodine is not any safer than coming here, using a product that is better for your skin and tanning in a good bed that is actually time-regulated," said Allen.

Julianne Casey stopped laying in tanning beds, opting for other alternatives.

"There's mystic tanning, there's airbrush tanning, there's just so many other healthy ways you can be bronzed so I just realized after seeing more and more sunspots on my skin that it's only going to get worse from there," said Casey.

And, products like the mystic tanning is an option dermatologists agree is effective and healthier.

Cool Tanz Salon says tanning beds can tan two layers deep into your skin, where the sun can tan up to seven layers deep. They say if you wear protective lotion and eyewear, that's safer than a long period in the sun. However, dermatologists say limit any exposure as much as you can, especially for children.

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