This week, a bunch of people with degrees in medicine concluded spray tans might kill you. Long touted as the safe alternative to lounging in tanning beds or (god forbid) the actual sun, it turns out spray tans contain chemicals that are toxic if inhaled. The offending ingredient is dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which has the potential to cause “genetic alterations and DNA damage.”
Apparently, the only reason DHA is on the market is… it was never intended to be sprayed. The FDA originally approved DHA for “external” use back in 1977, where it was a common ingredient in tanning lotion. Those lotions never quite took off because they turned the skin orange. In recent years, as people began to actively seek orange skin, DHA made its way into “spray” tan applications. Unfortunately, with spraying comes real potential for inhalation.
The revelation comes from a big piece by ABC that landed this week, which includes unsettling bits such as:
“I have concerns,” said Dr. Rey Panettieri, a toxicologist and lung specialist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. “The reason I’m concerned is the deposition of the tanning agents into the lungs could really facilitate or aid systemic absorption — that is, getting into the bloodstream. These compounds in some cells could actually promote the development of cancers or malignancies and if that’s the case then we need to be wary of them.”
In a comment to ABC, the FDA did what it does best: kind of shrug and change the subject. “DHA should not be inhaled or ingested,” and explaining further on its website, “The use of DHA in ‘tanning’ booths as an all-over spray has not been approved by the FDA, since safety data to support this use has not been submitted to the agency for review and evaluation. Consumers should request measures to protect their eyes and mucous membranes and prevent inhalation.” Thanks, guys.
So, petty much everything causes cancer. Everything. In the meantime, perhaps we could be a little more comfortable with our pasty limbs.