Tanning Equipment & Tanning Beds. There is no such thing as a safe or healthy tan. Exposure to ultraviolet A (UVA) and UVB radiation from tanning equipment can cause sunburn and eye damage, as well as increase the risk of skin cancer and other UV-related negative health effects.
- Early exposure to tanning beds can increase a person’s chance of developing melanoma by up to 75%. Among those who first used a sunbed before age 35, the risk of melanoma is increased by 59%.
- A “base tan” provides little to no protection against sunburn. Any tan or change in skin colour is a sign of skin damage.
- Tanning is not a safe source of vitamin D. The best way to maintain a healthy level of vitamin D is through taking a vitamin D supplement and including D-rich food sources, such as milk or milk alternatives, such as fortified soy and almond beverages, in your diet.
What does the evidence say?
UV-emitting tanning devices are classified by the International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC) as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1). There is sufficient evidence that UV-emitting tanning devices cause cutaneous and ocular melanoma. There is limited evidence that UV-emitting indoor tanning devices cause squamous cell carcinoma.23
The World Health Organization has issued a recommendation against the use of tanning equipment—especially by people under the age of 18.62,63
Ever-use of indoor tanning devices increases the risk of cutaneous melanoma by 15% to 22%,64,65 with evidence that risk increases with greater frequency of use.66–68 The few studies that have examined ocular melanoma risk have shown from 30% to as much as three times the risk compared with non-users for the highest exposure categories.23 There is also some indication of a positive dose-response relationship.23
The use of UV-emitting indoor tanning devices during adolescence and young adulthood may be associated with a particularly high risk of cutaneous and ocular melanoma.23,64,69,70
World Health Organization
In 2009, WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified exposure to UV-emitting tanning devices as carcinogenic to humans. More than 40 national and provincial authorities around the world have now implemented outright bans or restrictions on the use of sunbeds. However, much more work is still needed to restrict their use.