Avoid Tanning Beds to Lower Skin Cancer Risk
- A woman in the UK shared on TikTok how her mom owns a tanning salon, so she gets free tanning for like. Social media users were quick to point out the dangers associated with tanning beds, like an increased risk of skin cancer.
- Tanning beds are a known skin cancer risk factor (they can increase your risk of the disease by up to 20 percent), and they’ve been banned in certain parts of the world, like in Australia and Brazil, due to their dangerous nature.
- Using tanning beds can cause melanoma, a deadly and aggressive skin cancer.
- Protect your skin by avoiding tanning beds, wearing sunscreen, and avoiding the sun at peak hours, experts tell SurvivorNet.
For a good reason, though, her TikTok fans are raising eyebrows and pointing out the dangers of skin cancer that come from tanning beds. Cooney says, however, that she’s not worried about wrinkles, aging, or other problems associated with tanning beds – like skin cancer.Read More
While Cooney’s mom owns the business and may even tan herself, she’s also having a major impact on her daughter’s health. This is not uncommon. A study published in JAMA Dermatology found that “Maternal tanning behavior and maternal permissiveness toward indoor tanning are strong predictors of daughters’ indoor tanning [use].”
Tanning Beds & Cancer Risk
By using sunscreen and avoiding tanning beds – and other tips outlined below – you can drastically reduce skin cancer risk. When you use a tanning bed, you expose yourself to harmful UVA/UVB rays but at a drastically closer proximity than that of the sun when you’re outside. Many health experts warn against using tanning beds. Hopefully, Cooney will sit up and take not of what TikTok users are warning her.
One indoor tanning session can increase the risk of melanoma by 20 percent and squamous cell carcinoma by 67 percent, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
And in a study published in April for Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, researchers suggest that banning tanning beds among minors would prevent thousands of cases of melanoma in adolescents and millions of dollars in healthcare costs.
“Studies have shown that exposure to tanning beds increases the risk of skin cancer and ocular cancer,” says Dr. Lynn A. Cornelius, chief of the division of dermatology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “It also induces changes that lead to premature aging of the skin. There is no ‘safe’ tanning bed.”
Dr. Pavlick, a medical oncologist and a Professor of Medicine and Dermatology at NYU Perlmutter Cancer Center, echoed Dr. Cornelius’ statements by explaining that tanning beds increase your chances of melanoma “exponentially.”
In an earlier interview with SurvivorNet, she says, “We know there is a direct correlation with [melanoma] patients who go to indoor tanning salons,” Dr. Pavlick notes that the exposure “is about 6 inches from your body.”
The sun is millions of miles away when you’re on a beach, “so you have to think of the intensity that you’re exposing your skin to when you go to a tanning salon,” she says.
Surgery is typically the best treatment option for melanoma. Dr. Nima Gharavi, director of dermatologic surgery at Cedars-Sinai, says in an earlier interview with SurvivorNet, “The gold standard for treatment of melanoma is a surgical treatment with wide margins.”
Early-stage melanoma that’s close to the skin’s surface may be treated with Mohs surgery. This type of surgery is a microscopically controlled procedure that removes skin cancer by conservatively cutting along the entire margin until the surgeon reaches clear tissue. It’s most often used to remove other skin cancers like basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas.
How to Protect Yourself from Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in the U.S., and you can protect yourself and lower your skin cancer risk by taking prevention steps.
In an earlier interview, dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman outlines five easy ways to protect your skin, and lower your skin cancer risk. She tells us:
- Avoid sun during peak hours. This means from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It doesn’t mean you should never go outside during the middle of the day, but make sure you’re protected when you do venture outdoors.
- Cover your skin and eyes. A wide brim hat and sun glasses will protect your face, the top of your head, your ears, and the delicate skin around your eyes.
- Wear an SPF of 30 or higher. Plenty of facial moisturizers have SPF built into them. Reapply often.
- Get an annual skin check. You can check your own skin for anything that looks out of the ordinary, but you should still get a yearly check to make sure you didn’t miss anything. If you do happen to notice anything out of the ordinary in between checks, schedule an appointment to talk to your doctor about it ASAP — it is always worth it to make sure.
- Avoid tanning beds. “There’s absolutely no benefit to going to a tanning bed,” Dr. Engelman says.
Contributing: Abby Seaberg