The Dangers of Tanning Beds
- A young TikTok star had a skin cancer scare from using tanning beds after saying “I would rather die hot than be ugly” on the social media platform.
- Just one indoor tanning session can increase the risk of melanoma by 20%, squamous cell carcinoma by 67% and basal cell carcinoma by 29%.
- When you hop into a tanning bed, you are exposing yourself to the very same dangerous rays you expose yourself to outside, but those rays are only 6-8 inches away.
- Now is the time of year when the weather starts to warm up and people begin to shop for bathing suits in preparation for summer; it’s important to remember to protect your skin from skin cancer this summer.
That’s what a young TikTok star said in a video posted to the social media platform as she laid in a tanning bed. But a few weeks and a skin cancer scare later, she posted again and said: “I take it back.”Read More
Stella Hoekstra, of Michigan, was met with a load of negative comments when she posted her first video. But when she posted her second video, people flocked to the comments to discuss the dangers that tanning beds pose, especially when it comes to developing skin cancer.
@thisisntstellah i <3 tanning beds #CorollaCrossStep #foryou #tanning #euphoria #fyp #foryoupage #springbreak ♬ original sound – MissThatChix
“I genuinely don’t understand how people don’t see the danger of tanning beds,” one person commented. “It genuinely isn’t worth it. Not to mention it will make you look older.”
In her second video “taking back” her original comment, Stella showed viewers her arm, which had developed a “fleshy toned pimple-like bump.”
She then flashed the same bump, but with a Band-Aid over it, adding: “They took a chunk of it out and they are going to let me know if I have cancer.” She later said doctors took the entire mole off, not just a chunk.
Thankfully for Stella, this was only a skin cancer scare.
“I just got a call from my doctor and/or my dermatologist and they said that the mole they took off my upper right arm has atypical cells, so I think that just means it’s not normal cells,” she said. “But it’s not considered cancerous, so that is very good news. But I do have to go in every year to get it checked out just to make sure it doesn’t grow into something weird.”
@thisisntstellah #stitch with @thisisntstellah this is your sign DO NOT USE TANNING BEDS #tanningbed #WomenOwnedBusiness #OscarsAtHome #AEMembersAlways #DeserveADrPepperDuet ♬ original sound – not stella
Reflecting on her situation, Stella said she wasn’t as “educated” on the dangers of using tanning beds, and how using them frequently can cause skin cancer.
“Just to be clear, I am not here to scare anyone or make jokes about this,” another person commented. “My grandpa died from melanoma so I know how serious it is. Just here to share my experience with people who maybe don’t know about sun/tanning bed risks.”
The video has more than 10 million views as of the time of this report.
The Dangers of Tanning Beds
If you’re considering visiting a tanning bed, we highly suggest you think again. Just one indoor tanning session can increase the risk of skin cancer — melanoma by 20%, squamous cell carcinoma by 67% and basal cell carcinoma by 29%, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
When you hop into a tanning bed, you are exposing yourself to the very same dangerous rays you expose yourself to outside, but those rays are only 6-8 inches away. And in a study recently published in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, researchers suggested that banning tanning beds among minors would prevent thousands of cases of melanoma in adolescents, along with millions of dollars in health care costs.
So, even if the temptation of achieving a nice “glow” seems irresistible, you should note that health experts warn against using tanning beds.
Dr. Anna Pavlick, an oncologist specializing in skin cancer at Weill Cornell, explained to SurvivorNet that tanning beds increase your chances of skin cancer “exponentially.”
“We know there is a direct correlation with (melanoma) patients who go to indoor tanning salons,” Dr. Pavlick said, noting 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 added.
How to Protect Your Skin From Skin Cancer
The Skin Cancer Foundation estimates that more than 5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States every year, making it the most common cancer in the U.S.
Now is the time of year when the weather starts to warm up and people begin to shop for bathing suits in preparation for summer; it’s important to remember to protect your skin from skin cancer this summer.
Dr. Dendy Engelman, a board certified dermatologic surgeon at Shafer Clinic Fifth Avenue, previously told SurvivorNet about the top five things you can do to avoid skin cancer:
- Avoid sun during peak hours: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Wear a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect the tops of our heads, the tops of our ears and the delicate area around the eye
- Wear at least SPF 30 sunscreen and make sure to reapply every two hours or after excessive sweating or swimming
- Have yearly skin checks (with a professional) because it is difficult to evaluate areas all over the body
- Avoid tanning beds; there are no “good” tanning beds, and they can significantly increase your risk of skin cancer
Dr. Cecilia Larocca, a dermatologist at the Cutaneous (Skin) Cancer Treatment Center at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Mass., previously told SurvivorNet that something as simple as putting sunscreen on can reduce your chances of getting skin cancer, specially melanoma, by up to 50%.
“When it comes to squamous cell, basal cell and melanoma, even some rare cancers like Merkel cell carcinoma, protecting ourselves from the sun can reduce that risk,” she said. “I love telling my melanoma patients when they come in that that’s one thing they can really take control over when they come home.”
“When it comes to melanoma, if you use sunscreen, there was this great study that came out of Australia that if patients used sunscreen consistently over a period of ten years, they were actually able to reduce their risk for melanoma by 50 percent,” she added.
But no matter how vigilant you are about decreasing your risk for skin cancer, it’s important to still prioritize routine check-ups with your dermatologist, and always be on the lookout for any skin changes (like Stella did) in between visits.
Contributing: Abigail Seaberg