"Base Tan" in a Tanning Booth

Last Modified: July 8, 2010

Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

Does a tanning booth give you a base tan so you won't burn in the sun?

Answer

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

Absolutely not! You can still burn even after getting tan in a tanning bed. Tanning bed companies promote their products as using UVA rays and falsely say that this type of exposure is safe. Actually, tanning beds emit UVA and UVB radiation. UVA rays are less likely to cause a sunburn than UVB rays. However, UVA rays cause deeper skin damage, are thought to damage the immune system. In addition, tanning beds can cause eye damage, including cataracts and melanoma of the eye.

The bottom line is, the amount of radiation produced by a tanning bed is similar to the natural sun and in some cases may be stronger.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series: Sun Safety and Skin Cancer Prevention Webchat. View the entire transcript on sun safety.

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