For Tanners, All That's Golden Isn't Good for You

That's what 22-year-old Amanda Ahrens said to herself. She started using tanning beds at age 14. By age 19, she had melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

"I didn't even think about it," Ahrens said. "I looked good and I, you know, I got sort of addicted to that feeling that -- you know -- I look good."

Amanda and her mother would tan together before vacation. By age 17, Amanda was working in a tanning salon. She'd tan four to five times a week. One day she noticed a mole on her back that had changed over time. She had it checked out by her doctor.

"It was scary, 'cause they tell you, 'We found something. You need to come on in and we need to talk about it,'" Amanda recalled, choking back tears.

Amanda said she would never forget hearing the words, "We found melanoma."

"Of course I was scared to death. Its cancer, you know? That's scary," she said. "So that's hard to hear. I had to keep telling myself, 'I'm young, I can get through this. This is no problem.'"

The number of young women diagnosed with melanoma is 50 percent higher today than it was 30 years ago, and skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in young adults ages 25-29.

"Don't take your medical advice from someone who works at a tanning booth," said Jacob. "Ask your dermatologist."

Salons Tout Vitamin D Benefits of Indoor Tanning

"20/20" found that salons often played up the "benefits" of tanning. They claim it's good for you, healthy, because it's a source of vitamin D.

Salon No. 1: Tons of people do it for just vitamin D.

Salon No. 2 : It's actually healthy for you because it produces a lot of vitamin D and makes your bones strong.

Salon No. 3: Yeah, actually, the big thing now, if you go on like or anything, there was this huge new thing, like have you ever heard of Dr. Oz? From like literally like five minutes you get 5,000 milligrams. So, he recommends people that don't get to go outside to tan, it's like the new thing. But, in moderation. Like, you couldn't go in the bed for 15 minutes, you know what I mean?

The salons are not alone in touting Dr. Oz's support of vitamin D. The industry's trade group highlights Oz on its Web site. So "20/20" decided to ask Dr. Oz directly.

"The tanning bed is a terrible idea for just getting vitamin D ... all the data that we're seeing continues to reflect an increased danger of lying in a tanning bed," Oz said. "And so it's very difficult for me to endorse this to anybody out there and I won't let my own kids go to tanning salons. If your goal is to get vitamin D which is a very admirable goal, take… [a vitamin] pill or go out and get real sun."

Daniel Humiston is the head of the Indoor Tanning Association and owns a chain of salons himself. It was news to him that Dr. Oz would not support indoor tanning.

"I'm surprised, because I know Dr. Oz has been a big advocate of ultraviolet light exposure, and the production of vitamin, as, as the way it re-, produces vitamin D," said Humiston. "And he's been a big, big advocate, advocate of that."

A few minutes of natural sun can't be duplicated, Oz said. Bu that's not what the tanning industry says. Humiston claims tanning beds are safer than the sun because you're less likely to burn in their controlled environment. And yet, despite warnings from top cancer experts, he insists there's no conclusive scientific proof that indoor tanning increases the risk of melanoma.

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