Albright College


Fake Baked

In recent years, the tanning industry has seen an incredible rise in popularity, on estimation, as many as 30 million Americans use commercial tanning beds each year. Because of this we begin to see tanning salons outnumbering McDonald’s and Starbuck’s in many cities. Yet there are questions which still remain regarding the safety and risks involved with fake baking.

The use of indoor tanning before the age of 35 increases your risk of melanoma to 75%.  Which, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, is the most serious form of skin cancer; though not the most common, it still causes the most deaths, effecting nearly 120,000 Americans each year. Other high risk factors include not only your genetics but also your overall complexion; having very fair skin, many moles and/or freckles, or red hair.

Tanning can be broken down into two types of ultraviolet light exposure: UVA and UVB. Both are proven to cause skin cancer, however UVA is particularly indentified to melanoma.  Commonly, UVB rays are emitted from high-speed machines whereas UVA come from high-pressure machinery which uses tanning lamps ranging from 600-2000 watts (standard lamps range from 100-200 watts).

According to diverse investigations available on WebMD, research has determined the regular use of tanning beds triples or even quadruples the risk of developing melanoma.  And, the risk was four times greater among frequent users of high-pressure tanning beds. And still further, those who spend more than 50 hours tanning indoors had a threefold increase in their risk. The “risks” of the previous statements are for melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.

Major findings also included the following:

  • Melanoma risk increased with exposure - which can be measured by the total hours tanning, number of individual sessions, or years of exposure.

  • Because the increase in risk was seen in both types of machines, all types of tanning device should be considered unsafe.

  • Tanning indoors does commonly result in burns.

  • The strongest origination of melanomas can be found on an area of the body which is generally exposed during tanning sessions.


The act of tanning is addictive; the release of endorphins you might feel after tanning leads you to come back for more. Recent studies found that half of the college students, who engaged in tanning, met the classification for addiction; additionally, these addicted students were more likely to have “symptoms of anxiety and/or greater use of alcohol, marijuana, and other substances.”

Outdoor tanning does expose you to UV rays, which can lead to the development of skin cancer. Though through sun exposure or tanning, you can receive a boost of Vitamin D, that particular vitamin does not protect you from the cancer nor is it sufficient enough to be considered a daily dose. The ultraviolet exposure, whether indoors or out, has been noted by doctors to cause “’photo-aging’ or wrinkles and a leathery look.” This premature aging is due to DNA mutations in the skin which the ultraviolet radiation has sped up.

Being smart about sun exposure can be simple. SPF as low as 15 can protect against both UVA and UVB rays; the sun is most intense between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm; and applying sunscreen every two hours while exposed may help save you from burning. Never hesitate:  if you or a friend have any questions, stop in the Gable Health Center or call (610) 921 – 7532.

The above information is compiled from various articles available on WebMD.

- Nicole Kelly ‘12

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