Difference Between Natureal and Artificial Light Sources

  • Both emit UV-A and UV-B, but tanning salons emit an added UV-A/UV-B dosage that would not be experienced through natural sunlight. These short but extremely intense direct bursts of UV-A/UV-B radiation create a phenomenon unnatural in everyday sun exposure.
  • Low-level artificial tanning beds typically contain fewer bulbs than high-level beds. Such bulbs radiate UV-B rays, which penetrate the top layers of skin and typically cause sunburn. High-level beds generally contain more bulbs that emit both UV-A and UV-B rays, which are less likely to cause less sunburn in customers. This unnatural additive UV-A exposure is especially dangerous, since penetrates deeper in the skin and has played a very recognizable role in the development of skin cancer.
  • Artificial light sources promote several health risks!
    1. Premature skin aging, also known as Photoaging
    2. Immune suppression
    3. Eye damage: Cancer of the eye (ocular melanoma) and Cataracts (clouding of the eye's lens capsule, can slowly lead to vision loss)
    4. DNA damage, which could lead to development of both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers (basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma)

Tanning Statistics Between Age Groups and Demographics

Adult Artificial UV Tanning

The largest prevalence of indoor tanning users lies within the 18-24-age range at 21.67%. Percentages progressively decrease throughout ones lifetime. Between the ages of 45-64, prevalence of indoor tanning decreases to 12.19% and even more so to 9.87% beyond the age of 65. Compared to the average 12.04% males that go tanning, 18.26% of females do as well. Adolescent artificial UV tanning use creates a similar trend, but values within the adult demographic are a bit altered. A lower prevalence can be noted in adult females (18.26%) compared to their high school years (25.40%), while a higher adult male prevalence is apparent (12.04%) compared to their high school years (6.52%) [5, 6].

Adolescent Artificial UV Tanning

About four times more females in their adolescent years use indoor tanning compared to men. Males averaged a mere 6.52% indoor tanning prevalence, while females average a much higher 25.40%. There is an increased prevalence of indoor tanning users through the progression of high school. In the 9th grade, for example, about 10.5% of people use tanning beds. Percentages show a slight increase in the 10th grade (13.4%) before jumping a considerable amount in the 11th grade (18.23%) – as a student enters his/her upperclassman years. Finally, as one reaches the 12th grade, 21.67% of high school seniors tan indoors. One’s likelihood to use artificial tanning beds doubles between his/her high school freshman and senior years.[5]

Correlation Between Tanning and Skin Cancer

  • Higher risk of BCC observed in individuals who used tanning beds (+6 times/year) during high school/college (aged 15-20 years), compared to similar tanning bed use at ages 25 to 35 years [1]
  • Indoor tanning while in high school/college (aged 15-20) has shown high instances in the amount of moles on arms and incidence of severe sunburns, two of the most major skin cancer risk factors[1]
  • Tanning bed use creates a 50% increased risk of BCC, but the age at which one first tans, notably during earlier adolescent years, yields an even higher risk[2]
  • Tests have proven a “dose-response relationship” between frequency of indoor tanning and skin cancer risks (tanning bed use = 4 times per year):[1]
  • 15% increased risk of BCC [1]
  • 15% elevated risk of SCC
  • 11% elevated risk of melanoma
  • Tanning bed use and lamp exposure results in about 3,000 hospital emergency room cases per year[2]
  • More sensitive to cumulative exposure than to exposure at early ages, SCC yields a stronger effect for tanning bed use as adults (aged 25-35) versus adolescents[1]


  1. Han J, Hunter DJ, Frazier L, Geller AC, Qureshi AA, Zhang M. Use of tanning beds and incidence of skin cancer, Journal of Clinical Ontology 2012; 1-6.
  2. FDA – accessed March 2012. http://www.fda.gov/Radiation-EmittingProducts/RadiationEmittingProductsandProcedures/HomeBusinessandEntertainment/ucm116447.htm
  3. AAD – accessed March 2012. http://www.aad.org/media-resources/stats-and-facts/prevention-and-care/indoor-tanning
  4. FDA – accessed March 2012. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm186687.htm
  5. HIW – accessed March 2012. http://healthindicators.gov/Indicators/Adolescent-artificial-UV-tanning-percent_501/Profile
  6. HIW - accessed March 2012. http://healthindicators.gov/Indicators/Adult-artificial-UV-tanning-percent_502/Profile

UV4U - Loyola University Maryland