Are tanning beds safe? Take a look.

Tanning beds have risen in popularity but still, many question ... are tanning beds safe?

The media tells us the dangers of ultraviolet rays from both tanning beds and the sun itself. They make some valid points, especially concerning overexposure.

On the other hand we have those who tell us that there is such a thing as a safe tanning bed.

Let's take a look!

Since 1990, I have been a survivor of squamous cell carcinoma skin and throat cancer at stage 4. I've given careful thought, over the last few years, to form a solid opinion on the dangers …or safety of tanning beds.

Typically tanning beds emit 97% deep penetrating UVA rays (causes melanoma) and 3% UVB for tanning (causes sunburn, skin cancer- often later in life)

I know how severe and life changing skin cancer can be. That, in itself, has been enough to make me pay attention to the American Academy of Dermatology and their stance on tanning beds. I can't say that I,m totally aligned with all their views. I just want to be sure that I'm steering you in a safe direction.

At the same time I am a believer in alternative medicine, where there are some practitioners who advocate the use of certain tanning beds for the health benefits of vitamin D. 

Here in the United States, we have two popular doctors of alternative medicine that often speak out on these very controversial issues such as, “Are Tanning Beds Safe?” and tanning beds vs sun light.

I pay attention to each one of these doctors to help me form opinions, especially when there is a skin cancer/melanoma risk involved.

It seems to me that the best and most honest answer is somewhere between two opposing sides and if not, neither side is right and the answer lies elsewhere. 

Are tanning beds safe that only use UVB bulbs?

I read an article written by one of these popular doctors (Dr. O) about a guest doctor he had on his show (Dr. M) who advocates safe tanning beds, especially UVB tanning beds, which he carries a line of.

I was impressed by Dr. O's article because it reaffirmed a position within me that I was already believing was the right way to inform my visitors.

Perhaps Dr. M has a great tanning bed that may be technically safe, but I know that if that's the case, the user would have to follow Dr. M's instructions to the tee (and how many will do that?) and beyond that would have to be well aware of his/her skin cancer risk.

It's quite possible that two different people using the bed for the same amount of times, in the exact same way could have different results. One gets cancer; the other one doesn't ...because of the level of each person's skin cancer risk.

In regards to other tanning beds that do not claim to be UVB only beds, there are other dangers to consider from the amount of deep penetrating UVA rays that cause melanoma.

Many of these commercial tanning beds give off as much radiation in 20 minutes as the direct sun does in 2-3+ hours.

This overexposure will cause skin cancer, sooner or later.


What about tanning beds vs sun light?

They both have the danger of overexposure to the ultraviolet rays, although limited exposure to sunlight on a regular basis is the best source we have to utilize the health benefits of vitamin D.

I'll always lean toward sensible exposure to the sun's rays than being in a manufactured tanning bed, designed to simulate the sun's ultraviolet rays. 

Again, consider that 20 minutes in a tanning bed is equal to 2 to 3 hours of unprotected exposure to sunlight.

I totally agree with what Dr.O says in his article. He states, “…I recommend that you enjoy up to 15 minutes – at most – of natural sunlight without sunscreen to get your vitamin D and other sun-derived benefits.”

I add to that, that you should always take your skin cancer risk seriously, as people such as myself may not even want to have 15 minutes of exposure.

Be sure to get vitamin D.

If you live in a climate where it’s not possible to get a sufficient amount of exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun or you're not able to fit it in your schedule, then be sure that you do get the health benefits of vitamin D by taking supplements and eating vitamin D rich foods.

In conclusion - Are tanning beds safe?

If this hasn’t convinced you to back off from tanning beds then I ask you, if you never got skin cancer, why you would want to ruin your appearance with premature aging, leathery skin, fine line wrinkles and blood vessel damage?

If you never get skin cancer (which is not likely) you're definitely headed toward looking older and unhealthy.

Don't risk skin cancer.

I personally never thought it could be so devastating!


Links related to Are Tanning Beds Safe:

Skin Cancer Causes
Family History
Tanning Beds and Skin Cancer
Effects of Tanning Beds
Negative Effects of Tanning Beds
Causes of Melanoma
Risk Factors for Skin Cancer
Effects of Ultraviolet Radiation

Go from Are Tanning Beds Safe to What Causes Skin Cancer


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Updated July 1, 2015


Hi! My name is Nick and I’m 56 yrs. old and this is part of my story. Let me tell you, I was like a lot of people out there and I had no idea that skin cancer was anything bad. I had Basal cell back in 2007, but that was no big deal and it was removed and that was the end of that. No one told me that it was a type of skin cancer (I looked it up on my computer). But still no big deal, it would not kill me.
But I did know the word "Melanoma"....." --by Nick

Read more of Nick's Story

Scared to Death!!! - by Shelly

Our Cancer Stories are so similar, mine and Gary's! - by Valerie  

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Bottom Line
The Weather Channel has done well posting this information and photos to help you spot skin cancer, including melanoma.
It can be hard to spot, even for a professional.
The bottom line is to get an expert's opinion about any suspicious mole or lesion on your skin. If necessary, get a second opinion  and/or request a biopsy. it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Don’t put your very life at risk!