Do Your Skin a Favor: Skip the Tanning Salon

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By Laura Nathan-Garner, Staff Writer

leadtanningimage.jpgWith temperatures heating up, it's almost time to break out the bathing suits and shorts. That might seem like a good reason to visit a tanning salon -- you know, to bronze your skin before you bare it.

But spending time on a tanning bed can harm you. Last summer, the World Health Organization classified tanning beds in its highest cancer risk category -- "carcinogenic to humans." So those ultraviolet (UV) rays and UVB rays that darken your skin as you lie on the tanning bed can cause cancer.

Tanning increases your skin cancer risk no matter how old you are. But if you're under 30 -- or know a tanning bed user who is -- beware:  Tanning beds increase skin cancer risk by a whopping  75% for users under 30!

Here's more bad news for anyone flirting with visiting the tanning salon: Indoor tanning appears to be an awfully tough habit to break. A new study in the Archives of Dermatology found that more than 30% of college-aged tanning bed users became addicted to tanning. And 78% of the study's most frequent tanners tried to cut back on tanning but couldn't change their ways.

This is why MD Anderson discourages any use of tanning beds. The health price tag for that bronzed look is just too high.

If you really want to look a little darker before you hit the beach, try one of the many safe self-tanning products that will bronze your skin without increasing your risk of skin cancer. Not sure where to start? Check out our suggestions on how to get a healthy glow.

Have you tried self-tanners? If so, what types work best for you? Spray-on or lotions?

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