Tanning beds were once considered safe because they used mostly UVA light, which was thought to be not as harmful as UVB light. However, doctors and researchers then discovered that UVA light is actually the most damaging of the two types of sun rays. On July 28, 2009, the International Agency for Research on Cancer moved tanning beds up to its highest level of risk: carcinogenic to humans.
Tanning beds skyrocketed into popularity in the mid 1970s. A German scientist named Friedrich Wolff was doing a study on how UV light helped athletes. He noticed their tans as well, and he began creating indoor artificial UV light sources-leading to tanning beds.
Although tanning beds in Europe are government-regulated, the US did not start out so organized. This led to the mass production of beds that emitted UVB light rays, which led to sunburn and other skin problems. Dermatologists and skin experts began to notice the detrimental effects of tanning beds, and they called for changing the beds to make them safer, if not banning them altogether.
Thus, the tanning industry turned to UVA light rather than UVB. Because UVA light does not cause sunburn as readily as UVB light, and so people did not think that it was as bad for your skin as its sister type. However, we now know that this is wrong. UVA light does not cause as much sunburn because it penetrates deeper into your body, which can result in:
Damage to collagen and elastin, equaling loss of youthful appearance
Increase in free radicals
Malfunction in enzymes that fix DNA, meaning no prevention of DNA mutations
Some people do not think that tanning beds are harmful. They call on the body's need for vitamin D, which is produced when your skin is exposed to UVA light.
However, how can we ignore the findings of the International Agency for Research on Cancer? Scientists from across the world met and agreed that exposure to tanning beds and sunlamps before the age of 30 increases your risk of melanoma-by a staggering 75%. Also, they determined that it is not just UVB light that causes mutations-UVA has shown to have the same effect in mice. Eye cancers have also popped up in studies of the effects of ultraviolet light.
The choice to tan in a tanning bed is up to you. Although the beds have always carried warnings about causing premature skin aging, skin cancer, and eye damage, the FDA may soon require tanning beds to carry heavier warnings. It is important to know your skin and your skin type, and if you choose to tan, you should do so only in moderation.
Avoiding tanning beds and sunlight can help your skin maintain its healthy, youthful appearance. However, time still takes its toll, and wrinkles are not 100% preventable. Should you choose to treat your wrinkles with chemicals peels and/or injectables, make sure you turn to an experienced doctor whom you can trust. For more information on skin treatments to help you remain young-looking, check out Zimmet Vein & Dermatology today.