Fried cheese. Camel straights. That carnival ride with the the missing bolts. Your drunk cousin's offer of a ride in her old car with the bald tires and no tail lights.
Honestly, how can a person look at one of those glowing UV coffins without thinking, "Are you sure this thing is safe? I mean really?" Of course, the reassurance that comes from the teenager working the counter at the local Fake Bake tanning salon is worth at least as much as the buy five sessions, get one free deal the place offers.
Maybe not. As reported by AP (via MSNBC), there is an article published in the British medical journal Lancet that makes a very convincing case that if you spent some quality time in one of those UV fun-houses before you reached age 30, you earned yourself a 75% greater chance of developing skin cancer...
For years, scientists have described tanning beds and ultraviolet radiation as "probable carcinogens."
A new analysis of about 20 studies concludes the risk of skin cancer jumps by 75 percent when people start using tanning beds before age 30. Experts also found that all types of ultraviolet radiation caused worrying mutations in mice, proof the radiation is carcinogenic. Previously, only one type of ultraviolet radiation was thought to be lethal.
Doesn't that suck. As bad as arsenic and mustard gas. And this isn't one little study floating around out there. This is based on the aggregated data from a lot -- around 20 -- studies.
Of course, there are some who disagree... notably the people who make, sell and operate the tanning beds...
The classification of tanning beds as carcinogenic was disputed by Kathy Banks, chief executive of The Sunbed Association, a European trade association of tanning bed makers and operators.
"The fact that is continuously ignored is that there is no proven link between the responsible use of sunbeds and skin cancer," Banks said in a statement. She said most users of tanning beds use them less than 20 times a year.
No "proven link," you say? Yes, well, sometimes it's hard to ignore some pretty damning correlations...
But as use of tanning beds has increased among people under 30, doctors have seen a parallel rise in the numbers of young people with skin cancer. In Britain, melanoma,
the deadliest kind of skin cancer, is now the leading cancer diagnosed in women in their 20s. Normally, skin cancer rates are highest in people over 75.
Previous studies found younger people who regularly use tanning beds are eight times more likely to get melanoma than people who have never used them. In the past, WHO warned people younger than 18 to stay away from tanning beds.
I'm glad I never used one of these things. I'm also a bit concerned about my many friends who have. Melanoma is a pretty steep vanity tax to pay for trying to look less pale.