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Understanding the Effects of Tanning Beds

Millions of people flock to their local tanning salon where in a matter of minutes, they begin to build a beautiful, bronzed body! Interesting, indoor tanning all started in association with medical research. The first UV tanning lamp was actually developed by a German medical company back in 1906 for the treatment of rickets and other calcium deficient illnesses.

Then in the early 1970s, Friedrich Wolff (famous Wolff tanning beds) took this same concept but applied it to the study of athletes and high exposures to sunlight. Soon, he discovered that by lying in a "tanning bed", people actually became tan and thus, the new era of indoor tanning was born.

As with most forms of new technology, the initial prototype had many bugs that needed to be worked out, with the tanning bed being no exception. Initially, tanning beds emitted high levels of ultraviolet rays (UVB), which promotes melanin, the substance that produces a tan. Because the amount of ultraviolet rays was not controlled with the first beds, more and more people began to develop skin disorders to include deadly cancer.

As word spread about the risks of indoor tanning, bed manufacturers realized there were negative tanning bed effects on the body and that something had to change. Therefore, the design began to transform dramatically. However, public opinion had already been influenced with this new information, causing people to question the safety of tanning beds as a whole.

Through in-depth studies, today we know that the effects of tanning beds can be detrimental. Although we now have safer beds that put out less ultraviolet rays, the fact is that tanning still gives off 50% more ultraviolet radiation as what you would get from the sun. Many people believe that with new beds now using long-wave rays, or UVA instead of short-wave rays, UVB, there is no longer risk.

Keep in mind that although UVA rays do not burn the skin in the same way that UVB rays do, they actually permeate the skin even deeper, thus causing more significant and permanent damage. Now, consider that even the top of the line tanning beds still emit some degree of UVB rays and you can imagine the long-term devastation to the skin as well as the cornea of the eyes.

Unfortunately, exposure over a long period of time causes irreversible damage. Therefore, the next time you want to get a suntan, you should consider all the possible effects to determine if you are willing to put yourself at risk simply for a dark, golden tan.


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