Tanning Beds Cons and Pros
As the title would suggest, there may be more reasons not to use a tanning bed than to use one. With all the recent debate about overexposure to UV-A and UV-B or just plain ultraviolet radiation, the discussion has focused on the wide use of tanning beds that are in many ways a pure UV environment. While many people are reaching for the sunscreen lotion and zinc oxide cream, many other are stripping down, donning the protective goggles and diving into the warm glow of a tanning bed. It would seem that humans are still conflicted over the issue of looking tanned on the one hand and flirting with the real potential of developing adverse skin conditions on the other.
The basic design of tanning beds has not changed very much since first being introduced in the late nineteen seventies. For nearly ten years, no governmental agency had sought to regulate either the manufacturing or use of tanning beds and tanning salons sprang up, especially as an adjunct to existing hair and beauty salons. With degrees of regulation on such as setting limits on the maximum amount of exposure and attempts to standardize bed designs. The beds were touted as safe way to tan, mostly by the ability to control exposure times and intensity, which a tanner can not do when relying on the sun. Users often use creams and lotions designed to enhance the effects of tanning in a bed, and are very similar to garden variety suntan lotions.
Much of the debate regarding the pros and cons of tanning in a bed centers around the amount of UV radiation the user is exposed to. Tanning beds can expose the user to a relatively large dose of UV radiation in a short period of time, which can be greater than the UV exposure received from the sun. In either case, there is strong medical evidence to suggest a link between overexposure to UV-A and UV-B radiation and the development of skin cancers. Another potential health issue concerns the immune system. Some research concludes that over exposure to UV radiation can suppress the immune system, leaving the body less able to fight off disease and infection. If the potential for skin cancer and a compromised immune system was not enough, there is issue of premature aging of the skin which is not necessarily a health hazard, but can adversely affect ones appearance and self-confidence.
One interesting and disturbing problem with tanning bed use is one of psychological addiction. Just as with eating or body dysmorphic disorders, the user feels that the act of tanning is necessary to overcome a perceived physical flaw. In the case of over tanning, the person feels an overwhelming need to tan in order to achieve a certain physical appearance or in the belief that their skin is too pale.
If there are any upsides to using a tanning bed it may be that exposure to UV-B radiation helps spur the bodies natural ability to create vitamin D at a much greater rate than that achieved without exposure to UV-B or with the aid of diet and supplements. The problem is that all of the vitamin D needed by the body can be gained by eating foods high in vitamin D like dairy products. Research indicates that some people are able to overcome the winter blues by basking in the warmth of a tanning bed, which is less expensive than a trip to warmer climates.
Using a tanning bed boils down to a personal choice based on weighing the risks and the benefits. A qualified medical professional can provide more in-depth information about tanning and any potential health risks.
About the Author
Mitch Endick is a short article writer for the popular
skin care web site