Is Tanning Healthy

Is Tanning Healthy?

Getting some UV rays on a regular basis is very important to our health.

Tanning is your body’s natural protection against sunburn; it’s what your body was created to do. Some physicians falsely refer to tanning as “skin damage,” but calling a tan “damage” isn’t telling the whole story.

In an analogy used by the Indoor Tanning Association (ITA), calling a tan “damaged skin” is much like saying that exercise “damages muscles.” When you exercise, you are actually tearing tiny muscle fibers in your body. At first glance, when examined at the micro-level, this tearing could be called “damage.” But this tissue breakdown is your body’s natural way of building stronger muscle tissue.

Similarly, tanning is your skin’s natural way of protecting you from the dangers of sunburn and further exposure. So, be it from the sun or from an indoor tanning device, avoiding sunburn is crucial.

It is the burning of your skin and chronic excessive exposures — not the limited, sensible exposure to ultraviolet light or sunlight — that increases your risk for skin cancer.

According to Michael Stepp, a widely-published UV light researcher who is also CEO of Wolff System Technology: “Instead of tanning just for cosmetic reasons, an increasing number of regular tanning bed users have learned that regular, responsible and moderate exposure to UV light from natural or artificial sources, is important to well-being, natural vitamin D production and disease prevention,”

“In addition, regular indoor tanners are becoming increasingly aware that the links between tanning and skin cancer have been brought into question by medical researchers in studies published in the U.S., the UK and Europe.”

“I do not believe that moderate exposure to UV rays will cause skin cancer, in fact I believe quite the opposite. In my opinion, exposure to fluorescent lighting in combination with a lack of sunlight is what actually causes skin cancer.”

Statistics done by Danish scientist Thorwald Madsen show that disease, particularly infectious disease, occurs most frequently during the seasons in which the people get the least amount of sunshine. He concluded: “The prevalence of disease corresponds to the amount and intensity of the sunshine. The more sunshine, the greater the resistance to disease; the less sunshine, the lower resistance to disease.”

Getting UV rays from tanning beds is a great alternative to getting no sunshine at all. The real sunlight is probably the best source to receive the healing rays from the sun, but for people who do not have the time or ability to sunbathe, tanning beds are a great option.

As with all things, tanning beds should be used in moderation. It is a responsible way to get a base tan so you are less likely to burn when outside during your summer activities. Burning is never good for your skin or your body, so make sure to work your way up slowly.



Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

By Mayo Clinic staff
Seasonal affective disorder (also called SAD) is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. If you’re like most people with seasonal affective disorder, your symptoms start in the fall and may continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, seasonal affective disorder causes depression in the spring or early summer.

Don’t brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the “winter blues” or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own — you may have seasonal affective disorder. Treatment for seasonal affective disorder includes light therapy (phototherapy), psychotherapy and medications. Addressing the problem can help you keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year.

Positive Effects of UV Light

While indoor tanning is a cosmetic service, a well-known side effect of exposing the skin to ultraviolet (UV) light is the production of vitamin D. Emerging evidence suggests that there may be an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency in North America. Research also suggests that vitamin D plays an important role in maintaining good health. In light of this evidence, the Indoor Tanning Association believes that the health benefits of indoor tanning deserve further research.

Europeans started tanning indoors with sunlamps that emitted ultraviolet light as a therapeutic exercise to harness the positive psychological and physiological effects of UV exposure. Long before the first tanning facility was established in the United States in the late 1970s, the practice of visiting a “solaria” for the positive effects of UV light was widespread in Europe, particularly in the sun-deprived, northern countries. Although indoor tanning is considered a cosmetic exercise in the United States, the industry’s roots are therapeutic, and many Americans do in fact visit tanning facilities for that purpose.
The science of photobiology, which studies the effects of light on life, was founded on studying the positive effects of sunlight. Indeed, the 1903 Nobel Prize for Physiology/Medicine was awarded to Dr. Niels Finsen for his work treating the disease lupus vulgaris with ultraviolet light. While the indoor tanning industry in the United States promotes its services for cosmetic purposes, the fact remains that exposing the skin to ultraviolet light is the body’s primary means of producing vitamin D (which in turn is related to positive physiological effects). Exposure to UV light is also responsible for the production of endorphins and serotonin (which in turn is related to positive psychological effects).

Notice: You do not need to become tan for your skin to make Vitamin D. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation may increase the likelihood of developing skin cancer and can cause serious eye injury


FDA Offers Guidelines For Safe Dosing of Tanning Devices

High quality indoor tanning devices ARE SAFE if you precisely follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for exposure, posted on the label, as required by the FDA.

The FDA strictly controls the indoor tanning industry by setting standards for proper use of equipment — they have endorsed indoor tanning devices as safe. All tanning equipment manufacturers must use the same set of guidelines so that UV exposure levels are standardized.

The FDA uses a unit called “one erythemal dose” as a means of calibration for the indoor tanning industry — which is just a fancy word for one tanning session.

One erythemal dose equates to the amount of time it takes for a tanning device to produce erythema (slight pinkening of your skin), and this erythema indicates you have achieved a safe dose of UV — which translates to an optimal dose of vitamin D.

One erythemal dose differs for each person based on skin type and strength of lamps — just as a safe “dose” of sunshine differs for people based on their skin type, geographic location, and time of day.

The FDA also makes recommendations about how often you should receive a dose, stating you should wait 24-48 hours between doses. The reason for this is that it takes at least 24 hours for the erythema to go away.

The FDA’s exposure schedule can be described as CONTROLLED SUNSHINE, making it a very safe way to receive the benefits of the sun while indoors. Once you have a base tan, you can then enjoy more time in the sun without burning, and in that respect, you receive some protection that you would not otherwise have.

The obvious question any discerning reader would ask is this:

“If tanning units definitely do cause cancer, why would the FDA have laws for compliance and safety for consumers”?


Tanning and Skin Cancer

Vitamin D is one of the most effective ways your body controls abnormal cell growth.

Several researchers, most notably Dr. William Grant, have published peer-reviewed articles demonstrating that in America, for example, increased sun exposure would result in 185,000 fewer annual cases of internal cancer and 30,000 fewer deaths from cancer of the breast, ovaries, colon, prostate, bladder, uterus, esophagus, rectum and stomach.

By comparison, about 7,500 people die each year from skin cancer.

Skin cancer has a 20- to 30-year latency period. The rates of skin cancer we see today are most likely the result of bad habits from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s that were based on ignorance and misinformation about sun tanning.

In those days, many people still considered sunburns a mere nuisance, a necessary prerequisite to a summer tan. Severe burns were commonplace. Today we know how reckless and uninformed that approach was.

Skin cancer is not simply the product of cumulative sun exposure. It is multifactorial, a complex thing involving genetics, nutritional status, history of overexposure, and type of exposure.

In order to understand skin cancer risk, an important distinction must be made between UVA and UVB radiation. These two primary forms of ultraviolet radiation have different wavelengths, and impact your body in different ways.

UVB is the only form that will stimulate your production of vitamin D, in the form of D3.

UVA is the part that causes you to tan, but is also the part that can cause cancerous mutations in your skin, including melanoma. UVA actually destroys some of the vitamin D formed in your skin by the UVB.

UVA has a longer wavelength, so it penetrates materials more easily, including the earth’s atmosphere and window glass. Window glass will effectively filter out the majority of UVB radiation while allowing most of the UVA to pass through.

The significance of this is, if you are indoors near a window — like in your office, home or car — you get the UVA but virtually none of the beneficial UVB. This can lead to increased oxidative stress and accelerates aging of your skin.

The fact that we are modern day cavemen (now behind windows) is one of the reasons why malignant melanoma has been increasing exponentially among indoor workers for the past half century.

Normally, of course, when you tan from outdoor sun exposure, you’re getting both UVA and UVB so there is a “check and balance” system, optimizing your vitamin D levels while preventing you from overdosing on vitamin D.

What is important to stress here is that you can actually get vitamin D without significantly darkening your skin, since the UVB wavelength does not stimulate the melanin pigment that produces a tan. I offer UV devices on my website that do just that — they emit the beneficial UVB but none of the UVA, so the tanning and skin aging side effects are eliminated.

So, given the complexities of human biology and ultraviolet light, claiming that skin cancer is due solely to ultraviolet light is a gross and dangerous oversimplification.


Dispelling Myths About Melanoma

Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, accounts for less than 5 percent of the newly diagnosed skin cancers each year. It is now known that melanomas are not simply caused by too much UV.

Melanoma does not fit the mold of other skin cancers for the following reasons:

  • Melanoma is more common in people who work indoors than in those who work outdoors.
  • Melanoma most commonly appears on parts of your body that do not receive regular exposure to sunlight—and rarely occurs on your face.

Because people who receive regular exposure to outdoor sunlight get fewer melanomas, it makes no sense to say that ultraviolet light causes melanoma.

Some studies suggest that the key risk factor for melanoma is an individual’s genetic susceptibility to sunburn itself, not the actual incidence of sunburn. Furthermore, to date, no well-designed studies support the connection between melanoma and UV exposure from tanning beds.

This fact is significant, considering most of the studies did not account for confounding variables such as outdoor exposure to sunlight, childhood sunburns, the type of tanning equipment used, and the duration and quantity of exposures.


Avoiding sun exposure may NOT decrease the risk of skin cancer

By: Joe Schuster

Newsflash: The National Cancer Institute admits that it “is not known if protecting skin from sunlight and other UV radiation decreases the risk of skin cancer” Read more by visiting the NCI.



The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the principal teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School, recently reported ground breaking research which indicates that tanning may indeed protect against melanoma skin cancer. Lead researchers have been studying a gene called p53, also known as the “master watchman of the genome”. This gene has long been known to act as a tumor suppressor that protects DNA from cancer-causing damage. Specifically, p53 regulates cell lifespan and growth, which ensures that cells do not mutate or multiply uncontrollably as occurs in cancerous cells.Researchers have found that p53 also plays a significant role in the tanning process by initiating a chain of events that culminates in the production of melanin, or dark pigmentation. This tan then in turn protects skin from sun damage and, according to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, “can reduce one’s risk of melanoma. ”In fact, the “number one risk factor for melanoma is an inability to tan,” notes David E. Fisher MD, PhD, director of the Melanoma Program at Dana-Farber and senior author of this study. Those who tan easily or have dark skin pigmentation have the lowest incidence of melanoma. Overwhelming evidence suggests that genetics plays the biggest role in determining an individual’s risk for melanoma. This new research shows that the natural biological process of tanning can further protect our skin from overexposure and therefore reduce our chances of developing this deadly disease. For more information about this study please visit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s website at:

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