The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

68° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Research shows safe tanning myth should be put to bed

    As temperatures rise and spring hits Arizona, students will swarm to the nearest pools and lather on tanning oil. Others will head to tanning salons, not knowing the danger they’re putting themselves in.

    According to a 2011 study performed by the American Academy of Dermatology, tanning establishments are not warning most young people about the risks, including cancer, burns, premature aging of the skin and eye damage.

    Ronald L. Moy, president of the AAD, said, “Studies have found that UV radiation from indoor tanning beds increases a person’s risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent.”

    Although small doses of sunshine can be good, it appears that students at the UA have turned fun in the sun into an addiction. Within two miles of the university are six tanning salons, making it hard not to be tempted with the propaganda of bronzed models and sales on select tanning packages.

    Since it’s accompanied by a 75 percent increase in the risk of contracting skin cancer, you would think that most people would be deterred from even considering indoor tanning. However, if they aren’t getting the proper information or warning about these cancer beds, they have no reason not to assume that they are perfectly safe.

    “I think indoor tanning can be bad for you if you overdo it,” said Rachel Sylvan, an elementary education junior. “Going responsibly and knowing your limits though is fine. I use indoor tanning beds but try not to overdo it or burn myself because I think that’s where the danger is.”

    Experts at the Food and Drug Adminstration have said that any tan is a sign of skin damage.

    In July 2009, the International Agency for Research on Cancer reported that indoor tanning is more dangerous than scientists previously thought. The organization moved these devices into the highest cancer risk category, called “carcinogenic to humans,” and recommended that anyone under 18 be banned from tanning, according to the FDA’s website. On Jan. 1, California became the first state to ban indoor tanning for anyone under the age of 18.

    Arizona should follow California’s example and protect its youth from making a decision that could haunt them for the rest of their lives.

    The federal government also taxes tanning salon patrons 10 percent for indoor tanning services. Usually these sorts of taxes and regulations are put onto products that are extremely harmful to the body, like cigarettes and alcohol, but it appears that most salon customers either cannot make that connection, or choose to ignore it.

    According to the American Cancer Society, more than 81,000 new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in 2012. Of those, more than 76,000 of those will be melanoma and more than 12,000 cases will be fatal.

    These numbers are shocking. International scientists are even comparing tanning beds to the hazards of arsenic and mustard gas, according to MSNBC. So with all these risks and horrible effects, why do so many UA students continue to deliberately damage their bodies?

    Looking golden at the pool or the beach may be appealing now, but think ahead 10 years when you are plagued with melanoma or your skin is prematurely aged. Will it be worth it? This is a habit that so dangerous that it could be deadly.

    Tanning facilities should be required to inform their users of the damage and danger they are inflicting on themselves, and minors should not be allowed to use them at all.

    — Rebecca Miller is a junior studying photography and journalism. She can be reached at or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search