Using a tanning bed, booth, or sunlamp to get tan is called indoor tanning. Indoor tanning can cause skin cancers including melanoma (the deadliest type of skin cancer), basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation also can cause cataracts and cancers of the eye (ocular melanoma).
Indoor tanning exposes users to two types of UV rays, UVA and UVB, which damage the skin and can lead to cancer. Indoor tanning is particularly dangerous for younger users; people who begin indoor tanning during adolescence or early adulthood have a higher risk of getting melanoma.
Every time you tan you increase your risk of getting skin cancer, including melanoma. Indoor tanning also—
Indoor tanning and tanning outside are both dangerous. Although indoor tanning devices operate on a timer, the exposure to UV rays can vary based on the age and type of light bulbs. Indoor tanning is designed to give you high levels of UV radiation in a short time. You can get a burn from tanning indoors, and even a tan indicates damage to your skin.
A tan is the body's response to injury from UV rays. A base tan does little to protect you from future damage to your skin caused by UV exposure. In fact, people who indoor tan are more likely to report getting sunburned.
Although it is important to get enough vitamin D, the safest way to do so is through what you eat. Tanning harms your skin, and the amount of UV exposure you need to get enough vitamin D is hard to measure because it is different for every person and also varies with the weather, latitude, altitude, and more.
Studies have consistently shown that indoor tanning increases a person's risk of getting skin cancer, including melanoma.
According to the data from the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, many teens are indoor tanning, including—
According to the 2010 National Health Interview Survey, indoor tanners tended to be young, non-Hispanic white (NHW) women. A closer look at the data showed the following rates of indoor tanning among NHW women—
Healthy People provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans. Healthy People 2020 has 20 cancer objectives, including—
Indoor tanning is restricted in some areas, especially for minors.
California, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon,* Texas, Vermont, Washington,* and some cities and counties have banned indoor tanning by minors younger than 18 years. For the latest information, see the National Conference of State Legislatures' Tanning Restrictions for Minors: A State-by-State Comparison and AIM at Melanoma's 2014 Indoor Tanning Legislation.
*The state laws in Oregon and Washington contain an exemption which allows people younger than age 18 to tan with a doctor's prescription.
CDC research shows that states with indoor tanning laws that include age restrictions had lower rates of indoor tanning among minors.