If you want to live into your golden years, you should avoid that golden tan, according to researchers with the World Health Organization.
They they are comparing the dangers of tanning beds to those of mustard gas and arsenic.
Tanning beds are soaring in popularity.. There are more than 25,000 across America and nearly 30 of them in Amarillo alone.
Debbie Floyd is a regular at Neon Sun in Amarillo. She comes four or five times a week. And she's not the only one who craves the "just got back from a Caribbean vacation" look. We spoke with several others who come every other day.
WHO researchers say they're make a fatal mistake. "Increased risk of melanoma." Sharri Miller with Harrington Cancer Center says, "Any level of tan is skin damage, period."
Those researchers say that damage falls into the "group one category" along with tobacco, arsenic and mustard gas. Several local tanning salon owners are concerned this recent announcement will harm their business, and that people need to know the truth.
Neon Sun owner Blake Goldston says, "Tanning and arsenic and mustard gas, they're all in the same group as sunshine, beer, red wine and fish. They're leaving out that comparison because that doesn't make big headlines."
Miller says regardless of what dangerous things you compare them to, tanning beds are ten times as dangerous at natural sunlight, and with skin cancer patients on the rise, many area residents are finding that out too late.
She says there are "three types of skin cancer we see. Most of the time it used to be over 75 years of age. Now we're seeing them 17, 20, 25, 35."