Indoor Tanning: Should it Be Banned?

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • The summer season is over and that means that more and more people may head off to the local tanning salon. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation:

    • 30 million people use indoor tanning methods each year with 2.3 million being teens
    • Every day, an average of more than one million people use a tanning salon
    • The majority of people (71 percent) using tanning salons are women between the ages of 16 and 29

    Long-term exposure to ultraviolet radiation, whether from the sun or from tanning beds, increases your chance of developing skin cancer. The National Cancer Institute states that “Women who use tanning beds more than once a month are 55 percent more likely to develop malignant melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.” [1] 

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    A study completed at the University of Minnesota in 2010 puts the risk even higher, finding that indoor tanners have a 74 percent higher risk for melanoma than those who never used a tanning bed. The lead researcher of the study indicated that the study was designed to “address the limitations of past research, which have allowed the tanning industry to continue to deny that indoor tanning causes skin cancer.” [2]


    What the Tanning Industry Says

    According to the Indoor Tanning Association (ITA), “moderate tanning, for individuals who can develop a tan, is the smartest way to maximize the potential benefits of sun exposure while minimizing the potential risks associated with either too much or too little sunlight.”  The “Frequently Asked Questions” on their site go on to say, “…we believe that the risks associated with UV light have been overstated and the benefits ignored.” [3]


    The ITA site indicates that indoor tanning provides benefits and is a more responsible way to tan because staff can take skin type and the intensity of the equipment into account and develop a tanning schedule that will prevent sunburn while allowing the individual to receive the benefits of UV light.


    Should Indoor Tanning Be Banned?       

    Because of the dangers and risk of developing skin cancer from the use of indoor tanning, the World Health Organization (WHO) supports and has called for prohibiting any person under the age of 18 from using these facilities and equipment.  The American Academy of Dermatology Association supports a ban on the production and sale of indoor tanning equipment for non-medical purposes.


    Some states are enacting legislation to reduce the harmful effects of indoor tanning. Thirty-six states have laws restricting indoor tanning by minors and this past May (2012), Vermont became the second state (California was first) to actually ban minors from using indoor tanning facilities.


    The U.S. Food and drug Administration (FDA) is considering placing stricter policies and guidelines on the use of tanning beds. These policies would include prominent and explicit warnings on all tanning beds.




    [3] “FAQ,” Date Unknown, Staff Writer, Indoor Tanning Association


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    [1] “NCI  Health Information Tip Sheet for Writers: Artificial Tanning Booths and Cancer,” 2004, Aug 13, Staff Writer, National Cancer Institute


    “Skin Cancer Facts,” Date Unknown, Reviewed by David Polsky, M.D. and Steven Q. Wang, M.D. Skin Cancer Foundation


    [2] “Tanning Beds Triple Melanoma Risk,” 2010, May 27, Salynn Boyles, WebMD Health News

Published On: September 06, 2012