Safety of Tanning Salons

Last Modified: March 22, 2012


My daughter and her friends go to the tanning salon. Is this safer than being out in the sun?


Gloria DiLullo, MSN, CRNP, OncoLink Content Specialist, responds:

Tanning salons are not a safe alternative to the harmful rays of the sun. Studies have found that tanning salons are very harmful and lead to an increased risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancers. Those who go to tanning salons are 75% more likely to develop melanoma than those who do not.

Melanomas are becoming more common in women and at a younger age. Many studies show this increase in melanoma to be linked to tanning bed use.

Contrary to some tanning bed industry claims, the UVB emitted by tanning bed light sources is of a sufficient level to cause melanoma, and the high level of UVA emitted by the light sources is known to induce DNA damage by producing free radicals that contribute to cancer formation. In addition to cancer, UVA and UVB rays can cause long-term skin damage, such as premature aging, wrinkles, and dark patches (lentigos, sometimes called age spots or liver spots).

Learn more from the Skin Cancer Foundation at

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire Cancer Risk & Prevention Webchat transcript.


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