Learn more about the dangers of tanning beds

You hear the same excuses: “I don’t tan that often” or “I just need a base tan.”

Regardless, tanning beds, booths, and sun lamps can damage your skin, even if you only use them occasionally.

Why Tanning Beds Are Harmful

Tanning beds expose you to ultraviolet, or UV, rays that can alter cellular DNA and skin proteins. These dangerous rays can increase your risk of skin cancers like melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. They also may lead to cataracts and eye cancers.

UV rays also break down collagen and elastin fibers in healthy skin, causing premature aging, discoloration, and exaggerated wrinkles. As a result, your skin can become weathered and leathery later in life.

RELATED: 7 Steps to Prevent Wrinkles

Think you’re safe as long as you don’t burn or if you start with a base tan? Think again!  Once a tan develops, you’ve already damaged your skin. And you’re doing more damage in the tanning bed than you would at the beach.

Find a UPMC primary care physician by visiting the UPMC Primary Care website or by calling 1-855-676-UPMCPCP (8762727).

Get Your Vitamin D

Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, is an essential nutrient for bone strength because it helps your body absorb calcium. It’s especially important for people at risk of developing osteoporosis, or those who have osteoporosis, to get enough vitamin D.

So, you may be wondering: Are tanning beds harmful if they provide vitamin D? Tanning beds just aren’t a healthy way to boost your vitamin D.

The best way to get more vitamin D is to eat vitamin D-rich foods.

RELATED: It’s Never Been Easier to Find a UPMC Primary Care Doctor

Alternatives to Tanning Beds

But what if you like being tan? There are plenty of sunless tan options available, including sprays, creams, and self-tanning moisturizers.

Now that you know some of the dangers associated with the use of tanning beds, ask yourself if it’s worth the risk before you make that appointment.