Safety of Tanning Booths

Last Modified: June 4, 2010


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

Really- how unsafe are tanning booths? If they really caused cancer wouldn't they be regulated better?


Carolyn Vachani RN, MSN, AOCN, OncoLink's Nurse Educator, responds:

Tanning beds are so unsafe, the US Department of Health and Human Services and other groups have declared tanning beds and sun lamps as known carcinogens (a cancer-causing substance, much like smoking). People who use tanning beds before age 35 are 75% more likely to develop melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Despite this, only 31 states in the US have regulations on minors using tanning beds. The American Academy of Dermatology actually supports a ban on the sale of indoor tanning equipment because of the danger it poses.

Unfortunately, many teenagers and young adults use tanning beds, putting them at terribly high risk for melanoma at a time when they feel invincible. Our culture makes us think a tan looks healthy and beautiful. But at what cost? We need to change this mindset and talk to our kids about tanning beds the way we do about smoking and drugs. I am certain my own melanoma at age 31 was due to tanning bed use and I hope events like this can help educate parents & kids about the dangers of indoor (and outdoor!) tanning

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series: Sun Safety and Skin Cancer Prevention Webchat (view the entire transcript).