Tanning Bedlam

Advertisements for tanning salons fail to acknowledge that ultraviolet-emitting tanning devices are classified by the International Agency for Cancer Research as a Group 1 agent that can cause cancer in humans. Other Group 1 carcinogens include tobacco smoke, smokeless tobacco, asbestos, plutonium, and radon. Efforts by by the American Cancer Society and the American Academy of Dermatology to discourage the use of tanning beds have had little impact on college students or teenagers. The increase in melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, has paralleled the rise in tanning bed use, not unlike the dramatic rise in lung cancer in the 20th century as cigarette smoking increased. This exhibition presents a historical overview of the use and promotion of sunlamps and tanning beds.