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Effects of Tanning Beds

Tanning beds - also called sunbeds - are wonderful things designed to emit ultraviolet radiations for artificial or sunless tanning. Today, around one million people in the U.S use tanning beds. But, still there exists an uncertainty regarding the positive and negative effects of tanning beds.

Two types of radiations are produced from the tanning bed - UVA (long-wave) and UVB (short-wave). The UVA rays penetrate the skin and will not cause skin burns. The UVB rays, also known as "burning rays", affect the surface of the skin. These radiations can sometimes stimulate the production of vitamin D, which is an essential vitamin. It can even reduce the risk of muscle weakness and fractures.

Many health risks are associated with the use of tanning beds. Over exposure to UV radiations can damage the skin cells and alter the structure of the DNA. This can potentially lead to cancer, including the deadly melanoma. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, regular use of tanning beds tends to increase the risk of developing melanoma by 55 percent. The threat is more in women, especially between the ages of 20 and 29. Various other skin problems can also occur. The skin can become thick and leathery, which results in wrinkles and premature aging.

Another possible side effect is that the UV rays can cause damage to the eye. Eye injuries such as arc eye or corneal flash burns and keratitis are often developed due to increased exposure to radiation. Some types of cataracts are also caused. Apart from these, the strong radiations from the tanning bed can produce harmful effects on the body?s immune system. Another possible danger is drug and cosmetic induced photosensitivity.

Considering the side effects, many dermatological groups strongly oppose the use of tanning beds. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have also come out in opposition of using tanning beds for cosmetic reasons.

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