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Tanning Beds Doīs and Donīts

People across the country use tanning beds as a means of getting a nice, golden tan. Unfortunately, most people believe that the new models of tanning beds now available are completely safe when in fact, they too put people at risk for many skin and eye disorders to include cancer. The lifetime risk of melanoma as we know it today is about 1 in 75 whereas 70 years ago, that number was 1 in 5,000.

Prior to tanning beds, people spent more time outdoors where the body was exposed to natural sunlight and therefore, less susceptible to sunburn. However, with people living busy lives, the quick fix provided by a tanning bed has become the norm.

Since the introduction of indoor tanning in the early 1970s, the number of incidences for skin cancer has increased significantly.

Keep in mind that while tanning beds are not healthy for anyone, there are certain individuals and situations when this type of tanning can be extra risky. Therefore, we have put a list of tanning beds do's and don'ts together that can be used as a guide.

First, you should know your skin type. People with blonde or red hair, those with light colored eyes, and people with fair skin or with freckles are at the greatest risk. In this case, tanning beds should be avoided at all costs.

Ethnicity also plays an important role in relation to indoor tanning. For example, white Americans have a 10% greater chance of developing skin cancer than that of African Americans. Age too is a factor to consider since the older you are the greater risk of developing skin cancer. In fact, once a person reaches the age of 50, the risk of melanoma increases dramatically.

You should also pay close attention to family history. In this case, if someone in the family, especially a close relative, has had skin cancer, then you are in a higher risk category. Additionally, if you have ever had serious sunburn as a child or if you live in the South or at a high elevation, again you are at higher risk for skin cancer. Some medications can intensify the effects of UVB and UVA rays so always check with your doctor or pharmacist prior to tanning.

Other factors on the list of tanning beds do's and don'ts include tanning oils, type of tanning bed, and exposure limitations. For tanning oils, always use the type specifically made for indoor use, avoiding outdoor tanning oils that can intensify a burn. The type of bed is also important. You will have a choice of vertical or horizontal with the vertical chambers putting out much stronger UV rays than the type you lie down in. Finally, limit the time spent in a tanning bed and always begin the tanning process gradually!

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