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How Harmful Are Tanning Beds?

The link between indoor tanning and skin cancer is indisputable. Tanning beds emit UV light, which damages skin cells, triggers DNA mutations, and reduces immunity -- all of which have contributed to a dramatic rise in various skin cancers in the United States. In 2015 alone, researchers at the University of North Carolina attributed 9,000 cases of melanoma, 86,000 cases of squamous cell carcinoma, and 168,000 cases of basal cell carcinoma to the use of tanning devices. The report, published in the Journal of Cancer Policy, also linked the quest for a bronze glow to the premature deaths of around 1,200 people in the United States in 2015.

The high price of getting a tan:

  • The number of people who use tanning salons has risen over the past two decades. In the U.S., an estimated 30 million people -- about 25 percent of whom are teenagers -- use tanning devices every year.

  • The number of adults treated for skin cancer each year has shot up, from an average of 3.4 million between 2002 and 2006, to an average of 5 million between 2007 and 2011.

  • Skin cancer is now the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in the United States. Researchers estimate that the annual cost of treatment is roughly $343 million USD.

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