In the last twenty years, there has been a proliferation of tanning salons. These salons offer tanning beds which use ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet or UV light is the light emitted by the sun which causes the skin to darken or tan. It also is the leading cause of skin cancers, like squamous cell, basal cell and melanoma.
UV light causes freckles, age spots and pre-cancerous dark spots known as solar lentigos. Many people believe that tanning beds are a safe alternative to sunlight. In fact, tanning beds are the suspected cause for an increase in the number of skin cancers being seen by dermatologists in NYC, as well as the rest of the world.
The dangers of melanoma
- Melanoma is often diagnosed in young women.
- It is the second most common cancer for women under the age of twenty nine.
- Melanoma is an especially aggressive skin cancer and can be deadly.
- The risk of developing cutaneous melanoma is increased by 75% for women who use an ultraviolet light source to tan before they reach age thirty.
- Another disturbing development is the increase in abdominal skin cancers, which can be directly related to tanning bed use. In earlier decades, skin cancers were usually found on the face, hands and legs, as these areas were more apt to receive the greatest exposure to sunlight.
The current labeling on tanning devices was written in 1979. There is a movement among medical professionals to require new labeling for tanning beds that would warn the public of the risks. Exposure to UV light is the primary cause of most skin cancers.
To avoid the risk of skin cancers people should avoid not only the tanning beds, but also natural sunlight between noon and two o’clock. Use of a sun screen also reduces the risk. Cosmetics, like spray on tanning products, can achieve the look of a tan without the risk of UV exposure.