If you’re thinking of sitting in the sun or a tanning bed hoping that even if you get a sunburn it will eventually fade into a tan, change your plan. A sunburn will not fade seamlessly from a burn to a tan. Instead, the sunburn will start to peel, leaving you not with a new tan, but a blotchy, uneven skin tone.
And worse yet, whether you get a sunburn or tan, neither is good for your health and both are signs of skin damage.
Does sunburn increase the risk of cancer?
Yes. One study in the British Journal of Cancer found that 85.9 percent of melanoma cases are attributable to sun exposure. And according to the Archives of Dermatology – now JAMA Dermatology, about 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancer cases are attributable to sun exposure.
And as the Skin Cancer Foundation points out, ultraviolet (UV) radiation has a cumulative effect, meaning that skin damage from when you are younger can affect you later in life too.
Does tanning cause cancer?
Yes, even tanning without burning can cause cancer. Even if you do not get a sunburn, exposure to the sun’s UV rays still causes skin damage. So even that golden brown tan is a sign of skin damage. And cumulative skin damage – including tanning – increases the risk of skin cancer.
Do tanning beds cause cancer?
Yes, tanning beds can cause cancer. Despite what you might hear from the tanning salon, sitting in a tanning bed is not safer than sitting in the sun. Both expose the skin to damaging UV radiation, which can lead to premature skin aging and skin cancer.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, people who first start using tanning beds before their 35th birthday have a 75 percent higher risk of melanoma than those who do not. A systematic review and meta-analysis in the journal JAMA Dermatology even uncovered a startling statistic in 2014:
Tanning caused more skin cancer cases than smoking caused lung cancer cases. The study found 419,245 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. every year are due to tanning, compared to 226,160 cases of lung cancer that are due to smoking each year.
If you want your skin to look good as you grow older and prevent skin cancer, protect your skin by avoiding direct sun exposure and tanning beds or lamps, and wearing sunscreen and protective clothing that covers your skin, including y our face and neck.