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Does tanning cause premature aging of the skin?

Answer by:
Louise Chang, MD

Internist, WebMD Medical Expert
Medical Editor, WebMD

Yes. Whether the exposure is indoors or outdoors, ultraviolet exposure over time causes what doctors call "photoaging," or wrinkles and a leathery look.

German researchers evaluated 59 people who voluntarily started to use sun beds over a three-month period. Use of the sun bed induced a DNA mutation in the skin known to be linked with photoaging, they reported in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

In another study, published in Aging Cell, ultraviolet radiation exposure from the sun was found to speed the accumulation of DNA mutations in human skin associated with premature aging.