Skin Cancer Selfie Highlights Danger of Tanning Beds

Seeing this woman’s selfie may convince you to stay away from tanning beds.

27 year old nurse, Tawny Willoughby who used tanning beds in her teenage years posted this graphic selfie on Facebook to warn about the dangers of using tanning beds. The photo shows painful blisters and scars from her skin cancer treatment.




Willoughby told CNN that she grew up in small-town Kentucky, where, she said, it was normal to use a tanning bed four or five times a week.  “I had my own personal tanning bed in my home, and so did a lot of my friends growing up. … Everyone tanned,” Willoughby said. “I didn’t really even think about the future or skin cancer at the time.”

At the tender age of 21. Willoughby was diagnosed with skin cancer and has since had basal cell carcinoma.  It has recurred five times and squamous cell carcinoma once. She visits her dermatologist every six to twelve months and says she usually “has a skin cancer removed at every check up”.

How Tanning can Lead to Skin Cancer


The World Health Organisation issued an official warning in 2009 against tanning beds. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation-emitting tanning devices has been added to the most dangerous forms of cancer-causing radiation. A report showed that those who used tanning beds especially under the age of 30 increase their lifetime risk of melanoma by 75 percent.

Skin cancer includes melanoma, basal cell and squamous cell. Basal cell skin cancer often appears on parts of the body that are exposed to the sun such as the face, head, neck, back, chest and shoulders. It grows quite slowly and usually does not spread to other parts of the body.

Excessive solar radiation causes direct and indirect DNA damage to the skin. UVA causes the release of existing melanin to combine with oxygen to create the tan colour of the skin. UVA is known to cause DNA damage and to be carcinogenic.

The Centre of Disease Control (CDC) explains that indoor tanning exposed the skin to UV rays, UVA and UVB which damage the skin. Indoor tanning also causes premature skin aging like wrinkles and age spots, it changes the texture of your skin and increases the risk of potentially blinding eye diseases if the eye protection is not used.

The best ways to avoid skin cancer is to stay in the shade and avoid tanning and using tanning beds. It also advised to use a broad spectrum sunscreen of an SPF of 15 or higher everyday.

Footnote: Longevity has highlighted the dangers of tanning beds frequently in the past and has suggested that stricter regulations are introduced to protect consumers from the dangers associated with their use.