Skip Navigation

Not TanningNot Tanning

Two out of three teens and many adults think they look better with a tan. Unfortunately, UV rays emitted by tanning beds and the sun cause premature aging and wrinkles and are linked to development of squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

It is a common misconception that tanning beds are a safe alternative to sunbathing. Tanning beds are as dangerous as exposure to the sun. In fact many tanning beds have the capacity to emit levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation many times stronger than the mid-day summer sun.

Research supports the link between tanning and skin cancer. A recent review of research showed that men and women who ever used tanning beds were 15 percent more likely to develop melanoma, and 75 percent more likely to develop melanoma if they used tanning beds before they were 35.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), and the World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledge that all types of tanning are dangerous. The WHO recommends that “no person under the age of 18 should use a tanning bed” and discourages people from intentionally tanning in the sun. California was the first state to enact legislation restricting access to tanning beds by minors.

Elementary students are probably not going to tanning salons, but they may know people who do. For example, students' parents or siblings or teachers might tan. Remind students and staff that practicing sun safety can help prevent wrinkles, age spots and, most importantly, skin cancer. Make it clear that there is no such thing as a safe tan.

Fortunately for individuals who prefer looking tan, there are safe alternatives to UV tanning. Many salons now offer spray-on tanning that provides a safe alternative to UV rays. Also, self-tanning lotions are inexpensive and widely available in most grocery and drug stores.

Use these links to help spread the word about the dangers of tanning.

AAD- Tanning Fact Sheet
WHO- Sunbeds, tanning and UV exposure
FDA: Know the Risks of Indoor Tanning

Promoting Sun Safety in California Elementary Schools.

Sun Safe Schools Home Page