Why You Should Never Use a Tanning Bed


Dermatology PA-C, Jessica Mangiaracina, shares the facts about tanning beds and the increased risk of skin cancer that comes with using them. And despite what you’ve heard, tanning beds are not as safe as you think!

I’m a dermatology practitioner and I used to use tanning beds. Emphasis on used to.

Despite the irony, being a dermatology Physician Assistant that diagnoses skin cancers on a daily basis and briefly being a tanning bed user while in college, I feel the need to educate my patients with evidence-based medicine about the risk of skin cancer from tanning beds.

Tanning Bed Melanoma Skin Cancer

How Does Your Skin Tan?

Believe it or not, tanning is actually an injury to your skin. The darker color of your skin is actually the result of your skin trying to protect itself from UV rays. Whether you lay in the sun or a tanning bed, the tanning process is the same.(P.S.- There’s no such thing as a safe tan!)

What is Melanoma?

Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. It arises from the melanocytes (pigment cells) in your skin, again mostly caused by sun exposure. The UV rays target the melanocytes and cause mutations in the cells. Those mutations cause the cells to form very quickly, producing malignant tumors.

Tanning Beds and Melanoma

There are many risks factors that can contribute to melanoma. One major cause is Ultraviolet Radiation, UV radiation or UVR for short, from the sun or from tanning beds. UVR is classified by the World Heath Organization as a group 1 carcinogen, which is the highest class.
And if you think that tanning beds are safer than the sun, think again. Tanning beds give off 10 times more UV radiation than natural sunlight. Despite this risk, tanning beds are used often, especially by young women.
“Among all age groups, young adult women < 40 years of age are at a high risk of developing melanoma. In the last decade, melanoma has increased steeply among young women in the US; during 1975 – 2000,cutaneous melanoma was the most prevalent cancer in 25 – 29 year old women, representing approx. 12% of all cancers in 20 – 40 year old women.”

The Incidence of Melanoma is Increasing

Melanoma is the 6th most common cancerand is the 6th deadliest. 1 in 50 individuals in the US will develop melanoma in their lifetime. “The incidence of cutaneous melanoma increased in recent decades from 7.9 cases/100,000 in 1975 to 25.2 cases/100,000 in 2014.”
Your risk of developing skin cancer also increases with current or prior tanning bed use, history or past sunburns and a history of skin cancer for you or your family. Even though my time spent in tanning beds was brief, it’s still increased my chance of developing melanoma because of it.

A study of 434 melanoma patients found patients who have had primary melanomas with previous tanning bed exposure had a second melanoma diagnosed within a year. “67% of patients exposed to arUVR through tanning beds had their second primary diagnosed at the time of or within 1 year of their original diagnosis compared with 28% of nontanners (P = .011). Median time to diagnosis of second primary melanoma in patients exposed to arUVR versus those not exposed was 225 days versus 3.5 years, respectively”

The facts are scary but important. Thankfully melanoma, if caught early, can be treated with a 98% cure rate which is why getting your skin checked at least once a year is vital. Of course prevention is also key which means avoiding tanning beds, wearing sunscreen and sharing this knowledge your friends and family!


Referenced From Medical Journal Article- DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaad.2018.06.067

Jessica Mangiaracina, Dermatology Physician Assistant at Advanced Specialty Care, is passionate about practicing preventative skin care with patients of all ages and places an emphasis on early detection of skin cancer and patient education. In addition to medical dermatology, she is accomplished in both cosmetic dermatology as well as anti-aging aesthetics, including injectables of Botox and fillers, laser treatments, micro-needling and more.
At Advanced Specialty Care, our dermatology team,Dr. Kenneth Egan, Dr. Rand Werbitt and PA, Jessica Mangiaracina, provide expert care for your entire family from pediatric to adult. They specialize in medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology including diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer,acne, eczema, warts, rashes, scars and more. Dermatology and skin care appointments are available at one of our four convenient office locations in Danbury, Norwalk, Ridgefield or Stamford.
If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call our office at (203) 830-4700 or simply click here to fill out an appointment request form.

Advanced Specialty Care is a multi-specialty private practice caring for patients in Fairfield County, CT for over 30 years. We are committed to the well-being of our patients. We provide specialty care in Allergy & Asthma,Audiology, Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery, Dermatology and Skin Care, Ear, Nose & Throat, Head & Neck Surgeryand Hand Surgery. Our six, convenient Connecticut offices include, Danbury, New Milford, Norwalk, Ridgefield, Southbury and Stamford.

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Topics: Blog, Dermatology, Jessica Mangiaracina, PA-C , Skincare & Laser