Risky business: Tanning salons

Everyone knows, or should know, that exposure to UV radiation — from the sun or artificial sources such as sunlamps in tanning beds — increases the risk of developing skin cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Here are other risks to consider.

In addition to the risk of skin cancer, tanning can cause:

  • Premature aging
    • Tanning causes the skin to lose elasticity and wrinkle.
    • The leathery look may not show up until many years later.
  • Immune suppression
    • UV-B radiation may leave you more vulnerable to diseases, including skin cancer.
  • Eye damage
    • UV radiation may cause irreversible damage to the eyes.
  • Allergic reaction
    • People who sensitive to UV radiation may develop an itchy red rash and other adverse effects.

The bottom line?

According to the FDA, “Advocates of tanning devices sometimes argue that using these devices is less dangerous than sun tanning because the intensity of UV radiation and the time spent tanning can be controlled. But there is no evidence to support these claims.”

“In fact, sunlamps may be more dangerous than the sun because they can be used at the same high intensity every day of the year.”

10/6/11 21:44 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.