There have been higher cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, in younger people directly related to tanning beds, according to Kelly Parsells, aesthetician, South Tyler Dermatology.
On June 22, a law passed prohibiting anyone younger than 16.5 years of age from using indoor tanning devices. The law also requires salons to obtain parental permission before allowing anyone between the ages of 16.5 and 18 years old to tan.
“Never say they’re safe. There is no such thing,” Parsell said.
The risk for developing cancer increases 75 percent in people who begin using tanning beds before age 30, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Some people have the misconception that tanning beds are safer because they use Ultraviolet A radiation (UVA), instead of Ultraviolet B radiation (UVB).
UVB radiation comes from the sun. UVA radiation goes deeper inthe skin and while it doesn’t cause as much sunburn, it causes other harmful damage.
“There is no question that tanning beds are carcogenic,” said Dr. Stephanie Eijsink, ETMC First Physicians Clinic, Tyler Junior College.
Carcogenic means that something is known to cause or directly be related to causing cancer. Cancer often doesn’t show up until years later, therefore people are not aware of the danger until cancer has developed. Tanning also leads to bad skin later in life, it will sag or even have a leathery look.
“Like sun bathing, bad effects don’t show up until later years’,” Parsell said.
Heather Keeton, 22, uses a tanning bed up to three times a week. She wasn’t aware of the danger she was exposing her skin to.
“I didn’t know my skin could look like leather, I wish they would put up some type of warning or give some kind of information about what will happen to my skin when I’m older,” Keeton said.
Various factors raise the risks of developing cancer.
“People with fair skin and light colored eyes are more susceptible to developing skin cancer,” Eijsink said.
About 11,590 deaths are expected in 2009 from skin cancer estimates American Cancer Society. Your body only needs about five minutes of UV radiation a day to get daily vitamin B requirement according to Eijsink. Over time, tans will fade but the damaging effects on your skin will not.
Instead of using tanning beds, the American Cancer Society advises trying bronzing or tanning creams. Another safe alternative is Mystic Tanning. Mystic Tanning is an airbrushed tan and there is never any harmful UV exposure.
Mystic tans range from $20- $25 a session and the actual spraying time is 90 seconds, according to Sarah Mosely, salesperson at Tru Tan tanning salon.
“If a person wants to be tanned all year without any damaging effects to their skin, Mystic tanning is the way to go, Mosely said.