Kim Kardashian recently stirred up controversy for having a tanning bed in her office.
She claimed that using it helps with psoriasis, a skin condition related to an autoimmune disorder.
Light therapy can help with psoriasis, but tanning isn't the same thing and increases cancer risk.
Kim Kardashian claimed that a tanning bed helps her treat a skin condition — but evidence suggests using one may not be worth the risk of serious side effects like cancer and premature aging.
"I have psoriasis and it really helps when it's bad. But I don't use it too often," she wrote.
Kardashian was diagnosed in 2011 with psoriasis, an autoimmune disorder that can cause a rash of flaky, red, and itchy skin.
While phototherapy, a special type of light treatment, can be used to ease psoriasis symptoms, it's not the same thing as a tanning bed, and dermatologists don't recommend tanning as a substitute.
Phototherapy uses ultraviolet (UV) light in a controlled setting with doctor supervision to treat psoriasis of the skin, scalp, and nails, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association.
It often involves a type of light ray called UVB: while all UV light can damage our skin, UVA is the more prevalent type of radiation from the sun, and penetrates more deeply into the skin than UVB. The interaction between UV rays and the skin is what causes a tan, which is technically damage to the cells.
Tanning beds primarily use UVA light, which causes not only damage, but also skin aging (including the development of wrinkles) and increased risk of skin cancer, according to the MD Anderson Cancer Center.
A 2015 study found that tanning beds may offer a more accessible form of UV treatment for psoriasis patients, but have a risk of significant side effects like higher risk of skin cancer.
The World Health Organization classified tanning as carcinogenic, or cancer-causing, and studies suggest it can increase your odds of developing certain types of skin cancer by 58%.
The National Psoriasis Foundation does not recommend tanning beds as a treatment for psoriasis, noting that UVA can be ineffective without special medications, and because of the strong link to skin cancer.
Business Insider reached out to a representative for Kim Kardashian for comment but did not hear back by publication.
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