Tanning Beds & Coffins: Not All That Different

Most of my readers know how I feel about tanning beds. Tanning itself is fine, as long as you use proper sunscreen, and are outside in the sun, not in a booth.

However, I continue to find more startling statistics that drives me to further comment on the subject. For instance, it stuns me that despite the obvious scientific evidence (not only available in scientific journals) that tanning beds are hazardous, 20,000 to 30,000 Americans each year still use them!

The Centers for Disease Control estimate that use is concentrated mostly among young women. 30% of white women between the ages of 18 and 25 used a indoor tanning machine in the past year. Within that group, 60% used a tanning booth at least 10 times during the year.  10 times!

What they probably don’t know, and should know, is that ultraviolet radiation from indoor tanning far exceeds that of natural sunlight. A tanning bed’s output of UVA rays (the rays that cause most aging effects) is at least four times that of sunlight even at noon time on a summer day. Its output of UVB rays (the sunburn and skin cancer rays) is twice that of sunlight.

Those who used tanning booths before the age of 35 increase their risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by about 75%. In fact, between 1973 and 2004, the rate of melanoma more than doubled.

This news is truly a crying shame.  However, melanoma, other skin cancers and other types of aging skin damage from indoor tanning are entirely preventable. Also, the death rate from melanoma is declining primarily because of early detection, better treatment and more awareness of its deadly nature.

At Maine Laser Skin Care, I want you to not only look better and younger, but also to live longer. Please please please use your sunblock religiously when out in the sun.  And  in case you haven’t gotten the message already, keep saying NO to indoor tanning,

About Dr. John Burke

John Burke M.D. has practiced medicine for over 25 years, and is the founding partner of MidMaine Internal Medicine. He established Maine Laser Skin Care in 2004 after devoting years to learning the latest in laser and dermatologic technology. Dr. Burke has treated patients from all over the United States. He is one of Maine's busiest practitioners in laser treatments, and in the use of Botox for upper facial lines and excessive sweating.
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