Ultraviolet radiation from sunlight can cause numerous skin conditions, including a variety of skin cancers. While sunlight may help with tans, unprotected skin can be easily damaged by power ultraviolet radiation. Is there a safe alternative for tanning? For about 30 years, tanning beds have been used as an alternative to tanning. Tanning beds are a quicker, convenient means of obtaining a tan. Through the use of fluorescent lamps with phosphor bends, sunlight can be imitated by tanning beds. However, tanning beds also emit UV radiation in the tanning process. Are they a safer means of getting a tan?
According to Dr. Lawrence E. Gibson from the Mayo Clinic, the answer is no. Ultraviolet radiation is dangerous; regardless of the source. Ultraviolet radiation can cause many detrimental effects to the skin. UV radiation causes increased collagen degradation in the dermis and can damage collagen fibers, causing the accumulation of abnormal elastin. This degradation, accompanied by failure in certain metalloproteinase pathways, can produce excess wrinkles. UV radiation can lead to the production of free radicals in the body, which can damage DNA and harm skin integrity.
Tanning beds produce UVA radiation, which can cause serious skin problems. UVA radiation can penetrate deeper into skin than other forms of UV radiation, and can be extremely detrimental. For this reason, UVA radiation contributes to lower immunity and can cause aging disorders and various forms of cancer, including melanoma. The continued use of tanning beds significantly increases the risk of skin damage and skin cancer. Use of a tanning bed can be worse than exposure to direct sunlight, and improper use can cause further detriment.
In order to get the “perfect tan” it seems that proper skin care is essential. If you enjoy bathing out in the sun, make sure to use the appropriate sun screen and reapply as necessary. Exposed sunbathing or tanning beds can cause irreversible skin damage that can cause problems for years to come.
Chris Gromisch is a Junior Chemistry major at Trinity College