Warning: This Bed Is Hazardous to Your Health

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Now that spring has sprung and the hot days of summer are within reach, many Americans are excitedly shedding multiple layers of winter clothing only to be greeted by their pasty white skin.

Sound familiar? It may be tempting to transform your ghostly pallor by relaxing in an indoor tanning bed, but if the health of your skin – and your body in general – is important to you, you should steer clear of indoor tanning.

Health experts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Surgeon General, and the FDA, agree that indoor tanning can cause skin cancers like melanoma — the deadliest type of skin cancer — and basal and squamous cell carcinoma. If that’s not bad (and scary) enough, indoor tanning can also cause premature aging and damage your eyes.

Indoor tanning companies that claim otherwise will likely find themselves in a heap of legal trouble with the Federal Trade Commission.

According to the FTC, Dr. Joseph Mercola and his two companies that sold indoor home tanning systems ran false and misleading ads claiming that indoor tanning is safe and doesn’t increase the risk of melanoma skin cancer.

“These types of false claims are especially troubling because of the serious health risks posed by indoor tanning,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

The FTC, which filed a complaint in federal court about Mercola’s unsubstantiated claims, says consumers who purchased Mercola-brand tanning systems — which were sold at prices ranging between $1,200 and $4,000 each — may be eligible for product refunds. If you bought a tanning system from Mercola between Jan. 1, 2012, and the present, you should receive a notice and claim forms from an FTC redress administrator.

It’s estimated that Mercola will have to pay more than $5.3 million in refunds.

In addition, the final court order stipulates that Mercola and his companies are now permanently banned from marketing or selling indoor tanning systems.

If you’re not quite ready to embrace your pasty white skin, you’re in luck. There are some great self-tanning products available these days. Check out “Top Tips for Faking a Tan Without Frying Your Wallet.”

Still not convinced? You might want to check out the story on the FDA site of former Miss Maryland, Brittany Lietz Cicala, who was a dedicated tanning bed user between the ages of 17 and 20, when she was diagnosed with melanoma:

In the four years since she was diagnosed with melanoma, Cicala’s surgeries have left her with about 25 scars. Cicala gets a head-to-toe skin exam every three months, which usually results in removal of a suspicious growth.

For more information on rising skin cancer rates and tips to protect your skin, click here.

Have you or do you use indoor tanning beds? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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