Solar lamps are increasingly being used by the population. In fact, they allow to get a tan that would be available only in days of sun exposure, in no time.
For aesthetic reasons, we live in an era in which tan is very fashionable and this has allowed a large and rapid expanding market of solar lamps. In the USA, this technique went from being used by only 1% of the population to being used by an estimated quarter of the population within twenty years.
Knowing the harmful effects of UV rays of the sun, we began to worry about the effects of the use of this technique that exposes individuals to ultraviolet radiation. Many studies have been performed to evaluate this trend. As is well known, prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun is the main cause of the incidence of skin cancer. Obviously, many factors are involved, such as age at which exposure takes place, phenotype, place of exposure, time, season, etc.... The effects of UVA and UVB on the skin damage the antioxidant function, in addition to promoting the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), involved in the development of skin cancer.
Around the "world of tanning" has developed a large and important economic sector. The manufacturers of lamps, of course, argue that the use of these devices are safe and induce beneficial effects to those who use them. In fact, this technique could enhance the synthesis of vitamin D, essential for proper development and for a healthy life. In reality, very limited exposure is sufficient to produce vitamin D, compared to the typical time of exposure by tan lovers; besides, there are commercially available dietary supplements that could solve this deficiency more safely.
It also appears that there is little regulation of these devices, and this creates a lot of concern. In fact, we must not forget that tanning lamps may produce an exposure that is ten times more powerful than exposure to the sun. So it seems that the benefits are much fewer than the possible negative effects.
It is believed that the use of the sun bed can favor the incidence of skin cancer, the most common cancer among all malignant ones. Obviously, this risk increases by increasing years of use, number of sessions, and hours of exposure. And even if it is not possible to determine accurately the amount of solar lamps necessary to the onset of cancer, it is evident that their use increases the risk of incidence.
Current studies are not yet sufficient to provide certainty, although it is increasingly believed that these lamps are harmful to health. It is necessary that these studies continue to better protect public health by educating people on prevention... which is the most effective form of care!
- D’Orazio J, Jarrett S, Amaro-Ortiz A, Scott T. UV Radiation and the Skin. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2013; 14: 12222-12248
- Gallagher RP1, Spinelli JJ, Lee TK. Tanning beds, sunlamps, and risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005; 14: 562-6
- Schulman JM, Fisher DE. Indoor ultraviolet tanning and skin cancer: health risks and opportunities. Curr Opin Oncol. 2009; 21: 144-9