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Tanning beds pose same skin cancer risk as tanning in the sun, reports Harvard Women's Health Watch

September 1, 2009

Whether it comes from the sun or from artificial sources such as sun lamps and tanning beds, ultraviolet radiation is linked to skin cancers and to other sorts of skin damage, particularly premature skin aging, reports the September 2009 issue of Harvard Women’s Health Watch.

Ultraviolet radiation is one part of the spectrum of light that reaches the earth from the sun. The longer ultraviolet rays (UVA), which penetrate deep into the skin, are responsible for tanning. Shorter rays (UVB) damage superficial skin cell layers, causing sunburn. Tanning beds use fluorescent bulbs that emit mostly UVA, with smaller doses of UVB. The amount of UVA radiation emitted in a tanning bed is up to three times more intense than the UVA in natural sunlight, and the UVB intensity in tanning beds approaches that of bright sunlight.

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