A healthier way to achieve a summer tan

06.09.14 |

We all want to look good and feel good in the summer

During the summer, we all want to look good and feel good as we head off to the beach or the pool, basking in the delight of summer’s warm weather and relaxing rays.

If you, like millions of Americans, use indoor tanning beds to achieve the perfect bronze during the summer months, consider the risks involved.

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recently elevated sunlamp products and ultraviolet (UV) lamps used in sunlamp products—this includes tanning beds—from low-risk to moderate-risk devices, meaning that recent research has uncovered information about these products that suggests they are more harmful than we previously knew.

“The FDA has taken an important step today to address the risk to public health from sunlamp products,” said Jeffrey Shuren, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health in a press release.

“Repeated UV exposure from sunlamp products poses a risk of skin cancer for all users—but the highest risk for skin cancer is in young persons under the age of 18 and people with a family history of skin cancer.”

Using a tanning bed can affect your skin in negative, oftentimes fatal, ways. According to, “just one indoor tanning session increases users’ chances of developing melanoma by 20 percent, and each additional session during the same year boosts the risk almost another two percent.” That means that if you tan once a week for a year, you’ve doubled your likelihood to develop skin cancer.

To get a nice tan without the harmful side effects of using a tanning bed, get outside, and be sure to use sunscreen!

Along with greatly reducing your risk of developing skin cancer, getting outside under natural sunlight will inspire you to lead a more active life. You’re probably not just going to lay on your porch with sunscreen on, right?

Get out, take a walk, shoot some hoops—whatever outdoor activities you like to do, go do them! As long as you’re wearing sunscreen, you’ll avoid overexposure to harmful UV rays, and you’ll still naturally absorb enough sunlight to color your skin. On top of this, all the outdoor activity will promote weight loss and help you create health in your everyday life. That’s not a bad deal!

In addition, natural sunlight provides a great source of vitamin D, something that may help reduce the risk of heart disease, according to a recent study. As Deborah Katz of the Boston Globe reports, fair-skinned individuals will absorb enough radiation to produce about 10,000 international units (IUs) of vitamin D by spending just 10 minutes in the midday sun, well over the recommended government’s dietary recommendation of 200 IUs per day.

Tanning beds also increase vitamin D levels, but, just as tanning under these sunlamps is unsafe and harmful, obtaining vitamin D via this method is less than desirable, too.

In the Boston Globe, Kotz reported a case of a 26-year-old woman who was treated for excessively high vitamin D levels. She had absorbed so much vitamin D that the usually beneficial nutrient had become toxic.

The cause?
Tanning beds.

After determining that the young woman did not take vitamin D supplements or drink an abundance of milk, the physicians on the case learned that she used a tanning bed at least three times per week for a stretch of six months. The UV radiation from the lamps caused her vitamin D levels to spike, and she induced a condition called “hypervitaminosis D,” which can cause a host of undesirable symptoms, such as fatigue, bone damage, vomiting, and constipation.

Don’t risk your long-term health in search of a quick tan. Get sunlight the right way, the natural way, and you’ll look great and feel even better about the wise decision you’ve made.