Rethink indoor tanning beds this winter

By James Nitzkorski, MD  |  2/2/2018

Tanning is a multibillion-dollar industry, so of course they would have you believe artificial tanning is safe. It is not safe. The truth—proven by scientific research—is the longer people use sunbeds, the greater their risk, especially when they start indoor tanning before age 30.

Tanning beds use ultraviolet rays to make your skin appear darker. Those rays also mutate your DNA, causing skin cancer. That’s why tanning devices are classified by the World Health Organization in the same carcinogenic category as cigarettes and arsenic.

Even though people know to wear sunscreen and avoid sun exposure, cases of melanoma have risen for the last 30 years. According to the American Cancer Society, melanoma is expected to kill 9,000 people this year. That’s sad and even sadder when it happens to young people. Over the past month, I've treated three women between the ages of 21 and 34, all with melanoma.

Some risk is tied to genetics such as having light skin or freckles, but sometimes, people make decisions that put them in great danger. Hopefully, by knowing the ugly truth about tanning salons, you will avoid them and not have to make an appointment with a surgical oncologist in your future.


Dr. James Nitzkorski is a surgical oncologist with Health Quest Medical Practice, who is on the medical staff of Vassar Brothers Medical Center.