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Tanning Beds and Skin Cancer


Think tanning beds are safe? Think again. Recent studies suggest that this quick fix causes more than orange skin and premature wrinkles. It causes skin cancer.

The National Cancer Institute published a study in February 2002 involving 900 people with skin cancer and 550 people without. Those who reported any use of tanning beds were up to 2.5 times more likely to have had skin cancer. Past history of sunburns and sun exposure, in contrast, did not explain these results.

Another study published in May 2002 by the American Academy of Dermatology interviewed 30 women who had developed skin cancer before 40, an earlier age than usual. These women had visited tanning salons an average of 150 times, nearly twice as many times as an equal number of women without a history of skin cancer. One hundred and fifty visits don't sound like so many until you realize that the figure amounts to tanning less than once a month over 15 years.

Many people use tanning beds because they believe they are safe or not as dangerous as the sun, but Prentice Meinerding, a junior English major and employee at The Heat, said that outdoor tanning may be safer. Twenty minutes in a tanning bed is equivalent to six hours in the sun.

“Most people don't stay out in the sun for six hours,” Meinerding said.

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