Health Team

Triangle woman warns of danger of tanning beds

Posted May 15, 2013
Updated May 20, 2013

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants consumers to know about the serious health risks posed by UV radiation in tanning beds.

A recent report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer found tanning beds are more dangerous than previously thought.

One Triangle woman believes they are what led to her fight with the most serious form of skin cancer.

Back in her senior year of high school, Tara Lynn got a part-time job in a gym and worked there through college. She said her job at the gym afforded her a cheaper membership and “unlimited access to tanning.”

She used tanning beds regularly for seven years, and she’s convinced it led to a spot on her neck that her sister first noticed.

“The next time I saw her, she told me, ‘Promise me, promise me you'll go get it checked out.’ And that's a promise that probably saved my life,” Lynn said.

It was early stage melanoma.

tanning bed Report finds tanning more dangerous than believed

Rex Healthcare surgical oncologist Dr. Yale Podnos points to studies that indicate tanning beds increase the risk of cancer by 75 percent.

“We've seen a dramatic increase in skin cancers, particularly melanomas in women under the age of 30,” Podnos said.

Years of exposure to the sun’s UV rays also contribute to skin cancer risk.

“But it's the high intensity bombardments really that one would see in a tanning bed that really make us worry,” Podnos said.

Since Lynn's first melanoma spot was removed five years ago, she recently discovered another one on her back, which Podnos removed.

“It's really scary how fast it happens,” Lynn said.

Now 33 years old, she keeps a close watch for any changes on her skin, comes for regular skin cancer screening and makes sunscreen a daily habit.

Meanwhile, the FDA is reclassifying sun lamps from a "low-risk device" to a "moderate-risk device.” The agency also now requires labeling to include a recommendation designed to warn young people not to use tanning beds or other devices that use these sun lamps.


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  • quikdraw2 May 23, 2013

    I do not get it. With ALL the info out there over the last approx 15 years, why is this so hard to understand? Using tanning beds will increase skin cancer. I think the research proved that many years ago. So I ask again, what is the problem? You should not need a reminder sign to understand here in 2013 that you could develop cancer if you use a tanning bed? I am mystified.........

  • mortgagewoman May 20, 2013

    I just checked out a local salon who offers tanning services' website. They offer tips on building a base tan, telling you to build exposure gradually and to be sure to use eye protection. Nowhere on their site does it give any warnings that using their equipment could lead to melanoma.
    I am not saying that the government or anyone else should shut these places down, I AM thankful though for people like Tara Lynn who will tell their story. Young people need to hear this, because we all know very few of them actually listen to their parents!

  • UpChuck May 20, 2013

    George Hamilton seems to be doing okay.

  • IPayYouPay May 20, 2013

    This is not news. Skin cancer can be caused by tanning, rather in the natural sun or a fabricated one. When are we going to listen and learn?

  • mortgagewoman May 20, 2013

    Any exposure to the "real thing" or through tanning beds is potentially dangerous if your skin is not protected. It can lead to wrinkling, sagging, sun spots and skin cancer. I have also heard employees at salons where tanning beds are located tell people that it is totally safe.
    cblackman - I do not think she is playing victim. She is trying to get the word out that there are dangers to using tanning beds.

  • wolfpackfan0660 May 17, 2013

    I think the CDC or whom ever should make the owners of tanning beds post the risk so everyone can see. they may i don't know i dont use them. my daughter is tanning and i have tried to tell her the warning and she says the employees at the salons say they are not dangerous thats just the goverment saying that. each worker should have to take a coarse of some type to educate them on the dangers and pass them on instead of trying to make money! just my opinion. I'm entitled..

  • cblackman May 17, 2013

    While I certainly can be empathetic with her condition....did she honestly think tanning beds were safe for her until she developed the questionable lesions? She now wants to play victim to the tanning bed. I as well have tanned in the sun and tanning beds for many years. Since early adulthood I have been and am fully aware of the dangers of both. So, should I develop this condition/disease it will be my fault. By the way, as with any other cancer, there are lots of folks to get cancer without excessive tanning, smoking, even eating.

  • shirleyr1 May 17, 2013

    I am 70+ and just went through almost 5 month of surgical removal of a basal cell, the least agressive of what I could have had they said, on my bottom eyelid. I lost 2/3 of the bottom lid, reconstruction of the eyelid and had my eye sewn shut for a month for the graft to take. When I was a teenager I did lay out in the sun but not excessively, and never experienced a tanning bed. It takes a long time for the sun damage to show up, and never would I have thought on an eyelid. So you tanners just make sure you have a great dermatologist.

  • outhousecat May 16, 2013

    I'm 53 years old and was around when these things started getting popular. It seems like there have always been warnings that they are dangerous and can cause cancer, so this isn't anything new.

    I think people who use them are not too bright when they can just go outside and get the real thing. But we used to go to the lake, slather on baby oil and lay there until we were fried, so what do I know.

    Every generation takes its risks to be cool. I guess the day of reckoning is beginning for those 20 and 30 something year olds that lead the movement towards indoor tanning.