Home Latest Say ‘no’ to tanning beds this summer—the easy skin cancer supplier

Say ‘no’ to tanning beds this summer—the easy skin cancer supplier

Illustration by: Ahyana Riley | Staff Illustrator

Tanning beds have been around since the early twentieth century, ironically created in the form of lamps to help people with a vitamin D deficiency. Commercialized in the 1970s, tanning beds have become a gateway for increased skin cancer chances.

The story of the tanning bed is almost parallel to the cigarette. Tanning beds were exploited and quickly seen as a safe and normal way to become beautifully tan. However, time passed and there was a spike in skin cancer. Medical research concludes tanning beds are a huge cause of this spike, but people still use them regularly despite the hazards.

After the negative effects of cigarettes were found, organizations and legislation arose to combat the societal norm of smoking in an attempt to produce a healthier population. Companies were banned from airing commercials. Anti-smoking campaigns were launched in schools and cigarette companies were forced to warn individuals about the dangers of smoking right on the box.

The parallels between cigarettes and tanning beds promptly end there. Massive campaigns have not been launched to warn about the health hazards associated with tanning beds, and there are no warning labels on the machines.

With the definite risks proven to be associated with tanning beds, there should be massive campaigns against them. Legislation should be enacted not to take away the option from the public, but to fully warn of the serious risks lurking behind the perfectly bronzed body.

People should be aware of how tanning lotion is meant to amplify the UV light’s effect on the body instead of protecting it from burning.

Regular advertising of these dangers, similar to the smoking’s Truth campaign—especially for teens—should already be airing. Signs should be displayed in front of tanning beds warning the consumers what they are about to put their bodies through.

It is easy to ignore the health concerns when young, but youth will not be a shield forever. The decisions made at an early age will come back to bite. Wouldn’t you rather have healthy skin for your entire life, than have bronze skin for the summer?


  1. You are right about the dangers of tanning beds … but there have been massive campaigns against them. We are waiting for the FDA to rule on whether their proposal to ban anyone in the US under 18 from using tanning beds will become official. Many states, including Texas, have already passed legislation to ban minors from using tanning beds. I know because I testified before both the House and Senate committees in Texas. Six years ago the American Academy of Dermatology used my daughter’s story of tanning and melanoma to create a PSA. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYzfldQ3OU0 Every May is Melanoma Awareness Month and social media explodes with info about the dangers of tanning beds. I even have a Facebook page devoted to the dangers of tanning beds (www.facebook.com/BanTheBeds) So there is movement to educate the public about tanning beds and their risks. If you want to help, my research shows a large number of off-campus student housing at Texas State that provide free indoor tanning: Village on Telluride, Villagio,
    The Retreat, Copper Beech, Outpost San Marcos , Vistas San Marcos , Sanctuary Lofts , The Grove,
    The Edge , The Lodge , University Heights , Aspen Heights , Cabana Beach , Hillside Ranch Apartments , Capstone Cottages, Dakota Ranch , Riverside Ranch , Park Hill Apartments , Uptown Square , University Springs , University Heights II This makes risky behavior very convenient for college students so perhaps your newspaper could put some pressure on these housing complexes to pull the plugs on their tanning beds.

  2. Cris Rivera’s July 3 column comparing sun protection policy to tobacco cessation cheapens the importance of anti-tobacco efforts — a public health pillar with no peer — and fails to recognize the important nuance of sun care: Humans need UV exposure to live.

    I lost my mother to lung cancer in 1999. A smoker’s risk of lung cancer is 25-fold that of a non-smoker’s. Nearly 1 in 3 cancer deaths are tobacco-related, and tobacco is a leading cause of heart disease — our nation’s #1 killer. Unless you work in a mine or have some other source of occupational exposure, lung cancer is extremely rare in non-smokers.

    Nothing should be compared to smoking. Nothing.

    In contrast, skin cancer is increasing fastest today in men over 50 and in non-tanners — people who may be most likely to sunburn when they do go outdoors. Humans need UV exposure to live, and humans get less of it today than at any point in human history. Public health campaigns should focus on the importance of sunburn prevention — not sun avoidance.

    Consider, the United States has recognized UV exposure from sunlight as a known human carcinogen since the early 1990s. Bacon is on that same list (it’s linked to colorectal cancer). So are birth control pills (Breast cancer). But on that list — which also includes tobacco — only UV exposure is something you need to live.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control, half of the adult population sunburns today, but less than 5 percent use sunbeds. Sunburn doubles your risk of skin cancer. That’s fully six-fold greater than the risk the World Health Organization claims is attributable to sunbeds — almost all of which has been associated with home sunbed usage, but not salon sunbed usage, when you isolate the data.

    The sun care message has nuance and should be individualized. Sun care is different for a fair-skinned redhead than it is for a dark-skinned person for a number of reasons. Comparing sun care to tobacco is reckless. That’s why I’ve spent 24 years teaching sunburn prevention, promoting tobacco cessation and why I’m happy to discuss this issue with any group. Check out http://www.TanningTruth.com or http://americansuntanning.org/faq/ for more information.

    Joe Levy
    Littleton CO

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