The hot Houston summer is here, and many of you are seeking a golden brown tan. If you think modern tanning beds and booths are safe, think again! No matter what the salon tells you, tanning beds and booths do not produce a safe tan. Whether you get a tan at the pool, through incidental sun exposure, or a tanning salon, it’s bad news because a tan is caused by harmful ultraviolet radiation, which causes cell damage. Radiation is the same whether it comes from the sun or a box of lights. Ultraviolet radiation from any source leads to premature aging such as lax skin, brown spots, and wrinkles, and that’s just the “good” news. Numerous medical studies show that prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation drastically increases the risk for developing malignant melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma skin cancers. The American Academy of Dermatology and The Skin Cancer Foundation have warned about the dangers of tanning salons for years. In fact, some state legislatures have banned children under the age of 18 from using tanning salons. Dr. Mahoney of West Houston Dermatology has unfortunately seen patients in their early 20’s with skin cancer because of frequent visits to the tanning salon. The skin is your largest organ and its health is important for survival, so please don’t risk your health just to get a golden glow.