Back in the late 1990's and early 2000 I used tanning beds often. I would usually start going in early spring and continue straight through summer so I could maintain my tan. That added up to be about 5 months worth of tanning each year over the course of about 10 years. When I think back to that time I realize that with an average of 3 tanning sessions per week, I used a tanning bed over 600 times in that decade alone. It wasn't until years later that I learned tanning beds link to skin cancer and I want to share my story with you.
When I was "going tanning" there was incorrect information circulating in the news concerning the health benefits of using sunlamps. My understanding back then was a tanning bed was healthier than going out in the sun. I also was led to believe that it was far better for your skin to start out in a tanning bed in short sessions before sunning outside for hours. All of this information couldn't be farther from the truth. The fact is, any unprotected sun bathing is damaging to your skin, even more so in a tanning bed since they are 4-10 times stronger than the sun because of the intensity of UVA rays.
Research has found that people who used tanning beds when they were teenagers and in their 20s, have a 75% increase of getting the deadliest skin cancer known to man, melanoma. The tanning industry tends to hide the truth from us so that they can continue to be a profitable business while patients as young as 12 are getting diagnosed with skin cancer. Recently the FDA had finally become so concerned with the risks of tanning beds that they started requiring a warning label to be affixed on the outside of the bed itself, sort of like a pack of cigarettes. I know it's hard to believe because we look so much healthier with color, but try to remember this, tanned skin from a tanning bed or the sun is the sign of damage.
A couple of years ago I noticed a spot on my forehead and every time I scratched it off, it would grow back. After a few months, I decided to go see my dermatologist and found out that it was a form of skin cancer called basil cell carcinoma. My doctor felt confident that it was the direct result from overexposure in tanning beds and sun. She explained that this skin cancer is the most common with over 700,000 people being diagnosed each year. It was a scary moment for me and all I could think about was how many times I had exposed my skin to sunlamps when I should have been protecting it. I had the cancer removed and that experience completely changed my attitude about tanning beds and sun exposure in any capacity.