It’s wintertime in Iowa and more people are climbing into tanning beds to ward off the pale skin, but an expert says there’s no such thing as a safe tan. Doctor John Lowe, an assistant director of the University of Iowa’s Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, says most people who use tanning beds have fair to medium-toned skin.

Dr. Lowe says those people will usually go through the process of burning generally before they tan "and that automatically puts you at increased risk for melanoma and other skin cancers." Studies show people who use tanning beds before the age of 35 have a melanoma risk eight-times higher than people who have never used them. Even occasional use almost triples the chances. Lowe says some Iowans seem to put more importance on appearance than health.

Lowe says adolescents in Iowa say they feel better and look better with a tan, which makes it more of a social issue. Historically, he says many years ago, having a tan might have put you in a social class with which you wouldn’t want to associate. Now, he says Iowans who are tan during the winter give the appearance they can vacation in warmer climates. While some people advocate everything in moderation, Lowe disagrees, saying the only good tan is a fake tan.

Lowe says "Tanning is harmful to the skin" and he only recommends spray-on tans or artificial tans from a lotion. He adds, don’t listen to the sales pitches about vitamins as there are -no- positive health benefits from tanning.