Sun Tanning and Tanning Salons

  Tags: health   skin cancer   suntan   tanning beds   vitamin d


Sun tanning is a popular way of darkening the skin either by sun bathing (direct exposure to the sun) or the use of tanning beds in tanning salons. However, with over a million cases of skin cancer being diagnosed[1] (American Cancer Society), the debate regarding the risk and health benefits has become a hot issue.

This debate is regarding the overall safety of sun tanning (or more accurately, UV light tanning). There are separate sub-debates for considering, "Are tanning salons safer than sun tanning?".

Arguments For

Yes, sun tanning is good.

The Indoor Tanning Association believes that tanning is healthy because the UV rays are necessary for vitamin D production. Vitamin D is known to protect against various diseases and vitamin D deficiency is a problem for many people who do not get enough sunlight.[1]


In a study (BERWICK-Tanning) conducted by University of New Mexico epidemiologist Marianne Berwick, PhD, was not able to prove that tanning beds are no safer than sun exposure[1].

There is no conclusive study that correlates suntanning with cancer.


The visual look and attractiveness of a suntan is highly valued over pale skin. In particular, men are not generally attracted to pale white clammy skin-toned women.

Arguments Against

No, sun tanning is bad.

There is no such thing as a safe tan[1]. In the opinion of Dr. Fisher, president of the Society of Melanoma Research, exposure to UV rays is an avoidable cause of cancer, and causes thousands of skin cancer deaths[1].


The BERWICK-Tanning study did not prove that tanning beds are no safer, however, does not prove they are safe either. Furthermore, the data suggests that tanning beds are not safer and may be associated with an increased risk for melanoma[1].

There is no conclusive study that correlates suntanning with healthier vitamin D levels.

Corporate Skew

Tanning salons have a financial incentive to claim that sun tanning is safe.


 1  Healthy Tanning Beds? Experts Say No Sept 18, 2009 Boyles, Salynn (CBS News)

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Do Sunscreen Benefits Outweigh Vitamin D Needs?

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