If you are thinking of using a sun bed, make sure you read this article before doing so.
Sunbeds have been used for over 100 years now and around 10% of the European population is still using these either in wellness centres or in the privacy of their own homes. Sunbeds have been touted as a way to improve one’s health and wellness in the past, but the WHO is reversing these claims together with other health organizations around the world. Why is the campaign against sunbeds getting more intense lately? There are simply too many health concerns of sunbeds that neglecting these can mean long term health effects that will eventually lead to premature death. Considering the number of people using these, the health implications are wide.
What about sunbeds?
Sunbeds, sun booths and sun lamps can produce the same harmful radiation from the sun like those from UVA and UVB rays. These can make the skin coarse and leathery and it can also burn the skin and damage it in the genetic level. The tan is not just a mere colour change in the skin but a means of the body to protect itself from the negative effects of UV rays.
While many people like to believe that getting a tan in a sunbed is safer than getting it out in the sun, the truth is actually the opposite depending on factors such as the frequency of your sunbed use, the length of time you use a sunbed, the strength of the UV rays inside the sunbed, your skin type, and your age.
Because of these factors, the Scientific Committee on Consumer Products set the maximum limit for ultraviolet or UVR exposure from sunbeds. The figure set by the committee is a maximum of 0.3W/m2 (standard erythema doses per hour). Erythema refers to the reddening of the skin due to sunburn. The limit set above simply equates to 11 doses of tropical sun exposure which WHO already sees as “extreme”.
The health dangers of sunbeds
What if the limit mentioned earlier is violated? What can happen? Radiation exposure through sunbeds can cause a lot of health problems in the human body. Side effects from sunbeds include:
- Sunburn – aside from sunburns being painful, this can actually cause more harm to the body. The burnt skin is a sign that the DNA in your skin cells incurred damage. Sunburn damage does not need to be severe with the appearance of peeling and blisters. As long as the skin turns pink it is already burnt.
While sunburn looks harmless (the body peels away the damaged skin) and the normal colour of your skin goes back to normal in time, getting sunburned just once every 2 years increases the risks of skin cancer three times. The odds are not in your favour at all.
- Skin cancer – skin cancer develops from constant sunburns. When there is just too much damage to the DNA of your skin cells this can lead to unchecked skin cell growth and will ultimately lead to cancer. In severe cases of sunburn the skin cells are so damaged the body needs to get rid of these through peeling. Sometimes the body cannot get rid all of these damaged skin and this too contribute to the formation of cancerous growth in the skin.
The reason why skin cancer can be so dangerous is because it is invasive. As the cancerous cells multiply and form tumour, these mutated cells can easily move through the lymphatic system of the body and then to the different organs in the body, even in the bones. When this happen, it is often too late to pursue effective cancer treatment.
- Eye damage – using sunbeds exposes you to UVA and UVB rays. In a sunbed these rays are directed at your face, so eye damage is certain especially when you fail to use ample eye protection. Many people shun protective goggle because of the risk of getting “panda eyes”. But closing your eyes when doing sunbed sessions is simply not enough to thwart the damaging effects of radiation.
What can happen? This can lead to blindness caused by growth in the eyes such as cataracts, or permanent eye damage, even cancer. The high dose of radiation from sunbeds almost makes eye damage inevitable especially when you start using sunbeds at an early age.
Should I use a sunbed?
Your answer will definitely depend on your priorities. Although a tan is very nice to look at and getting them through a sunbed is very convenient, you also need to think about the long term effects of sunbed use.
There are things you can do to make sunbeds safer for you. Controlling the frequency, duration of use and taking into account your skin type are just some things you can consider seriously before using a sunbed. But the health concerns of sunbeds are plenty and dangerous that steering clear from sunbeds completely might be the smartest thing you can do.