Are Tanning Beds Safer Than the Sun?

Which is safer? Tanning beds or the sun?

Are tanning beds safer than the sun?

Many people claim the beds are safer because you can choose tanning UVA rays over burning UVB rays.

But new research shows both types of rays may be dangerous.

The study out of Yale University shows that young people who tan indoors regularly have a 69% increased risk of suffering from basal cell carcinoma -- the most common type of skin cancer.

Another study showed tanning beds increase the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. The risk increases with the number of years a person uses a tanning bed.

These findings are sure to change the advice we give to patients. While we used to think that sunscreens offered complete protection, the fact is the skin protection factor – SPF -- which you read on the sunscreen labels, only refer to protection from UVB, not from UVA. The answer -- reduce sun and tanning bed exposure to a minimum.

When you do tan, use a new, special type of sunscreen called broad spectrum, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays

If you can’t find one that says full spectrum, look for ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

Both reflect UVA and UVB rays.

You should also realize that sunscreen is needed year round, particularly since UVA rays are at constant levels, even in winter. And do not fool yourself by thinking tanning beds are safe.

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