It is no secret that the sun can be just as harmful as it is beneficial. While we rely on the sun for energy and vitamin D, we are receiving strong ultraviolet rays that burn the skin and can lead to skin-related cancers, such as melanoma. Realizing the potential dangers that harbor in exposure to sunlight, many people have sought an alternative to achieve a tan. The most popular alternative today is the tanning bed. Artificial ultraviolet light, found in sun lamps and tanning beds, can provide the same UV rays found in sunlight. These UV rays mimic the effects the sun has on skin. Even though these beds emit the same UV rays that the sun does, many people prefer to tan indoors, convinced that tanning in a salon is much safer than tanning outdoors. Because tanning beds have the ability to emit certain rays to achieve a faster tan, they are certainly more convenient and less time consuming and their popularity is increasing rapidly.
Approximately 20 million Americans patronize tanning salons on a regular basis, bringing in about five million dollars annually for these salons (Robb-Nicholson). If tanning salons are so popular, then they must not be so bad, right? Unfortunately, skin cancer is the most diagnosed type of cancer in the U.S., meaning that artificial and natural sunlight are both contributing to this growing problem (Vanhoy). While efforts to seek a healthy sun exposure may be far fetched, the debate between the danger of artificial UV light compared to natural sunlight can be broken down to find the true underlying cause of the ongoing skin cancer epidemic. Are tanning beds a safer alternative to natural sunlight exposure, or do they pose even greater risks for health problems?
Because prolonged exposure to sunlight is the leading cause of skin related cancers, such as melanoma, many people try to avoid the sun by choosing to tan in a salon. One of the reasons indoor tanning is so popular is because of the different types of beds made available to the patrons. Tanning salons offer a variety of beds containing different types of UV ray lights, ranging from mostly burning rays to mostly bronzing rays. In other words, beds are built with UV-A rays and UV-B rays to produce similar effects as the sun would in less time. Both UV-A and UV-B rays play a role in damaging the skin and contributing to skin cancer, however UV-B rays are more helpful in achieving the bronze color every girl strives to obtain on the beach (Levine).
Since intense exposure of un-tanned skin to the sun poses as a threat for the development of skin cancer, the idea of gradual exposure to UV rays by tanning in a bed has become a widely accepted alternative (Levine). This is why tanning salons often peak in sales right before spring break and summer vacation. The idea of tanning before summer is to already be tan before you go outside to tan. Although scientists have proven that any type of radiation has harmful effects to the body, 80% of tanning salon...