Opinion on Tanning Beds for Vitamin D Synthesis?

How much sunlight is too much and increases the risk fo skin cancer? I like to use a tanning bed for about 10-15 minutes three to four times a week. Am I putting myself at risk for skin cancer? Thank you.

Doctor Answers 2

Like Aristotle We Preach the Golden Mean

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A few years back the sun tanning bed industry employed a rather moronic man as its spokesperson. He would go around denigrating the idea that sun tanning booths caused skin cancer. One time, while on 20-20, John Stoessel pointed to a large pile of scientific and said something to the effect that the American Academy of Dermatology supplied us with all these papers showing how sun exposure and sun tannning beds caused skin cancer. With a vague wave of dismissal, this man then said "Well that's their opinion, our research shows otherwise." No kidding.

Anyway, that tack did not work. Now the same industry employs a young attractive female who proposes that the sun tannning industry is a healthy life choice. Maybe stopping in for a quick dose of UV light after picking up some pomegranite juice at the health food store and a jar of Resveretrol tablets at the nutrition shoppe.

True there is an epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency in this country. We discussed this on our www.blogtalkradio show on April 23. I would encourage readers to get their Vitamin D level checked. Many people with vague symptoms of muscle aches, back pain, malaise have a Vitamin D deficiency. I bet if you stood in front of a chiropractor's office and handed out Vitamin D pills daily, it would severely cut down on their patient volume.

The good news is that you do not need to age your skin by going into a sun tanning bed. Vitamin D is supplemented in a number of foods such as orange juice, milk and is found in eggs, and fatty fish ( salmon, and the underrated mackerel). One needs only casual sunlight of about 10-15 minutes turn precursors into the active form, D3. Vitamin supplementation is helpful. Make sure you get Vitamin D3.

Whether you are putting yourself at rish for skin cancer with 10-15 minutes, 3-4 times a week is difficult to tell. I would have to know the energy ( Joules) you are receiving and the wavelength of light. Also, is your skin pale, or dark? Do you have atypical moles or not?

Asking a dermatologist whether a little sunlight is good is kind of like asking the pulomologist whether a few cigarettes are harmful. The answer is probably not and in your case a little bit of sun tanning bed use may even be beneficial.

Again, just as in the days of Aristotle, though moderation is the key.

Virginia Beach Dermatologist

Tanning for Vit D is a bad idea

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You can get enough Vit D through incidental daily exposure to sunlight when you go grocery shopping or running errands.

Tanning beds will increase your risk of skin cancer and you should completely avoid them.


Tanveer Janjua, MD
Bedminster Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 126 reviews

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