Discerning the Myths from the Facts
There's a lot of information floating around about indoor tanning. Unfortunately, a lot of it is inaccurate. So here's the real story behind the biggest misconceptions about UV light and indoor tanning.
Myth #1: All doctors oppose indoor tanning
Lots of indoor tanners are referred by their doctors for cosmetic skin conditions. Many of these local doctors believe as we do, that moderate exposure to UV is okay and sunburn should be avoided.
Myth #2: Any tan is damage
Tanning is a natural and intended body function. Our bodies were designed to receive sunlight and creating a tan is part of that process. Saying that sunlight is dangerous and should be avoided is like saying that water causes drowning, and therefore we should avoid water.
Myth #3: Tanning is addictive
So is eating, drinking, breathing, etc... well, you get the point. Research has shown that when we're exposed to UVB light, endorphins are produced in our brain making us feel good. These same endorphins are produced with other natural activities too.
All living things naturally crave sunlight exposure. There's a good reason for all of us feeling better when the sun is shining and it's not dark and gloomy. Calling tanning an addiction is a bit of a distortion on something that's natural and intended.
Myth #4: Tanning is just like smoking cigarettes
Unlike exposure to UV light, inhaling toxins found in tobacco is an unnatural process. Our bodies weren't designed to process these toxins and smoking has been proven to “cause" many diseases including lung cancer. Making this comparison really downplays the dangers associated with cigarette smoking too.
Studies linking tanning to increased risks of skin cancer are complex. To date, there are no studies proving a “causal" relationship between moderate tanning and melanoma skin cancer. This doesn't mean the tanning industry doesn't believe there are risks or that we should ignore existing science. That is why we inform all patrons of the potential risks associated with indoor tanning in our consent forms, equipment labels, signage and educational materials.
Myth #5: Tanning beds are different than sunshine
Mid-day summer sunlight is made up of 95% UVA light and 5% UVB light. Most indoor tanning equipment emits the same thing but in slightly higher doses, usually 2-3 times more intense. That's why professional tanning salons control the duration of your total exposure based on the UV output of the tanning unit.
It's simple math. Your total exposure to the sun or a tanning unit is based on the intensity of the UV light multiplied by the total exposure time. So if the tanning unit you're using is two times more powerful than sunlight, your tanning professional will carefully adjust your exposure time to at least half of the non-burning exposure you would want to get outdoors in summer sunlight.
Notice: Exposure to ultraviolet radiation may increase the risk of skin damage, skin cancer and can cause serious eye injury.