Tanning beds can cause many skin problems down the line.

Whether it’s for prom, graduation, formals or a big vacation, students have used tanning beds to get glowing skin for decades. Tanning beds are cheap and only take a few minutes to turn someone from pale to tan. However, they pose health threats to those using them. Skin cancer from overexposure is just one of the common consequences, but there are many more. Tanning beds should be banned in the United States as a way to keep students safe.

Tans, whether created by natural or artificial sunlight, are dangerous because of ultraviolet radiation. UV radiation produces genetic mutations that can lead to skin cancer. One of the most common and deadliest form of skin cancers is melanoma. Melanoma kills more than 8,000 Americans annually and is especially dangerous to those with fair skin. It’s difficult to find skin cancer if students aren’t frequently tested. Since students only use tanning beds for  short periods of time, they may not realize how bad the consequences truly are.

Along with skin cancer, students can also be at risk of eye problems in the future. Similar to skin cancer, ocular melanoma — also known as eye cancer — is caused by excessive UV ray exposure. Other eye problems such as inflammation of the cornea or cataracts can occur as well. One’s skin can also form premature wrinkles and sun spots. These things can still happen from natural sunlight, but the excessive amounts of UV rays in tanning beds are much more harmful.

There are obvious ways students can decrease their risk of cancers and other problems from sunlight. These include applying  high SPF sunscreen and limiting time in the sun can still give students a glowing tan while also giving their skin a break from the UV rays. Natural sunlight has plenty of positive effects, too, such as an increase in vitamin D, decreased risk of seasonal depression and improvement of sleep.

Even though natural sunlight is healthier, it’s not always an option. During fall or winter, students are left using artificial tans because the sun isn’t present or strong enough. Instead of using a tanning bed, students should look for lotions or sprays in order to get the glowing skin they desire. Lotions are easily applied and can be used every day. And while tans may be messy and leave a lasting smell, they don’t pose as many risks as tanning beds do.  

In order to prevent any harmful consequences, students need to look for healthier alternatives. The risks that come along with tanning beds outweigh the benefits. A glowing tan may be beautiful in pictures, but students will look back on those pictures and regret their decision if they’ve ended up ruining their skin. It’s the responsibility of the government to ban tanning beds, or at least create more restrictions, in order to protect the health of the people. Similar to taxing cigarettes in order to prevent lung cancer, it would be in everyone’s best interest to push tanning beds out of American — and college — culture.

Megan Klepper is a junior, writing, rhetoric and technical communication major. Contact Megan at