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The Truth About Tanning Sunbeds


Julie George

Julie George melanoma Survivor

People who think that indoor tanning or sunbeds are a safer option are mistaken. There is no such thing as a healthy tan, which in fact indicates skin damage. First use of sunbeds before age 35, increases the risk of developing melanoma by 59%. In 2009 sunbeds and tanning booths were officially classified as cancer causing agents by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). People who use tanning beds also have a much higher risk of getting Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) – they also tend to get SCC earlier in life. Read more about the dangers of sunbeds…

Julie George, melanoma Survivor states: “I think in the back of my mind I knew sunbeds were dangerous, but I never knew just how dangerous. I was completely ignorant of the nature of melanoma too. I wish I could have had a glimpse into the future back then, a real understanding of the dangers. I still find people today who don’t take it seriously. I think as I had, they have the ‘it won’t happen to me mind set.’ I am hoping my story will convince people that this is a very real, life threatening risk.”

Sunless or Self-Tanning

There is no such thing as a healthy tan – even a sunless tan

In recent years there has been a considerable increase in the use of sunless and self-tanning products such as sprays, mousses, gels, pills, nasal sprays & injections called Melanotan 1 and 11.

Melanotan 11 has serious side effects, and may induce melanomaCANSA warns against this product. Read our Warning Against Melanotan-II

Sunless tanningalso known as UV-free tanning, self-tanning, spray-tanning (when something is applied topically) or fake-tanning – refers to the application of chemicals to the skin or making use of chemicals that are taken by mouth or per injection, to produce an effect similar in appearance to a suntan. The browning effect usually occurs within a few hours. The effect is temporary – the colour fades in 7-10 days as the skin naturally sloughs off.

Sunless tanning products include:

  • Bronzing powder
  • Spray bronzers
  • Stick bronzers
  • Tanning wipes
  • Tanning tablets
  • Tanning capsules
  • Tanning injections
  • Tanning nasal spray
  • Sunless tanning lotion

None of these is safe!

  • Although some self-tanning products contain sunscreen, it offers minimal ultraviolet radiation protection. It does not provide protection from the ultraviolet rays of the sun and CANSA strongly discourages individuals to use any form of tanning product.
  • Topical sunless tanning products that contain Dihydroxyacetone (DHA), prevent the formation of Vitamin D in the skin when exposed to the sun.

Read our Sunless Tanning Position Statement & Fact Sheet

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