Sunbeds & UV Rays
Whatever the type of UV ray—UVA or UVB—they both can cause cancer, just in different ways. And guess what has both? That’s right, tanning beds.
There’s no such thing as good UV rays.
Tanning beds emit two kinds of UV rays to give you that golden glow—UVA and UVB. The problem is both of these rays can give you cancer. Here’s the science:
UVA accounts for up to 95% of UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface.15 This type of ray penetrates the skin a lot deeper than UVB rays, but for a long time, scientists didn’t think they caused significant damage to the outermost layers of skin where skin cancer occurs.16 Studies now show that UVA damages skin cells called keratinocytes in the deeper layers of your skin and contributes to, and may even initiate, the development of skin cancers.
A tan is your skin’s response to this damage. The skin darkens in an attempt to prevent further DNA damage, and this mutation can lead to skin cancer. Every time we’re exposed to UVA rays, we’re taking a risk. But, with tanning beds emitting up to 15 times more UVA rays than the sun, you’re increasing your risk of skin cancer by 75%.17 You don’t have to be a MENSA genius to see that’s a bad bet.
UVB rays are the chief cause of skin reddening and sunburn. They tend to damage the skin's more superficial epidermal layers and play a key role tanning, photoaging and, you guessed it, skin cancer. The intensity of these rays varies by season, location, and time of day, with the most significant amount of UVB hitting between 10am and 4pm from April to October. Though this period is when they are most intense, UVB rays can burn and damage your skin year-round, especially at high altitudes or on reflective surfaces such as snow or ice—which bounce back up to 80% of the rays so that they hit the skin twice. Yikes!
As if the typical UV rays of a tanning bed weren’t bad enough, many tanning salons now have high-intensity UVA emitting lights to get you more tan in less time. These sunbeds emit up to 10-15 times more UVA than the midday sun.18, No one wants their skin served ‘well-done’.