New Risks Using Tanning Beds
One of the easiest ways to get skin cancer may be the use of tanning beds. A British study published October 6 online in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology offers new insights into the effect of tanning beds on the skin and their potential cancer risks.
The study investigated the effect of UVA1 and UVB rays on the epidermis. The top layer of our skin or epidermis has 5 layers from the outer visible skin to the innermost which is called the basal layer. The cells of the base layer are constantly dividing and creating new cells as they push old cells up to the outer layer of the epidermis.
The reason this is important is because when we think of tanning the surface skin, we usually think of the outer layers which are already dying off and so represent less of a long term cancer risk. However, the basal cells of the epidermis are a different story because they subdivide frequently, which means that damage can grow quickly.
Tanning beds use UVA1 rays, which penetrate the basal layers of the epidermis. In the study, 12 individuals were exposed to both UVA1 and UVB rays on their buttocks. The study found that the UVA1 rays were more damaging to the base layer of the epidermis.
Prof Antony Young, one of the researchers from King's College London, said: "In the past UVA has been written off as not very serious to the skin.What we are saying is that UVA does cause significant damage to DNA in the skin especially in the base layer, and that is where the damage is important."
Professor Michael Kimlin, an Australian expert in sun and health, said: 'What the researchers are saying is that we may have been looking at the wrong wavelength of light for years.
Although the tanning industry has been receiving increased scrutiny from the FDA, tanners may not want to wait for increased regulation to make a change to their tanning methods. Apparently, tanning the slow way, out in the sun with a good sunblock may still be the safest and best way to get a tan.