Adel from Redcliffe, Queensland, Australia asked:

Can spray tans give you cancer?

Can spray tans give you cancer?

I am very pale and can't tan naturally so I get spray tans once a week. My Mum says I should stop because it will give me cancer. Is this true?

The source:
Our answer

There is no evidence that spray tans cause cancer. Fake tan lotions and sprays contain ingredients that temporarily stain the skin a darker colour. The tan fades as dead skin cells flake off, often in around a week. While fake tans are a safer alternative to tanning in the sun or in a solarium, Cancer Council does not recommend any type of tanning. Not only do they perpetuate the idea that tanning is desirable, some people who use fake tans mistakenly believe that a tan will provide them with protection against UV radiation. As a result, they may not take sun protection measures, putting them at greater risk of skin cancer. Some people are concerned about the impact of inhaling DHA when they get a spray tan. DHA (dihydroxyacetone) is a common ingredient in self-tanning products that reacts with chemicals on the skin’s surface to give the appearance of a tan. Self-tanning products are available as creams, lotions, mousses or sprays ¬- they are all safe to use on your skin, and DHA has been used in these products since the 1960s. However, spray tanning creates a fine mist of the product, which means that DHA can get into the eyes, or enter the body from the mouth or by breathing in the mist. Like many other cosmetic ingredients, the safety assessments on DHA have not involved humans, but have been done on cells growing in a laboratory and on animals. In 2010, the European Commission Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety assessed the data from laboratory and animal studies on DHA. They noted that not many studies were available, but concluded that the amount of DHA that a person could breathe in during a spray tanning session does not pose a health risk, either during an individual session or after many sessions over time. If you are concerned about exposure to DHA, protect your eyes (for example, with goggles or eye pads) and avoid breathing in the mist. The United States Food and Drug Administration also recommends protecting your lips with a layer of lip balm.

This page was last updated on: March 19, 2013
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