One Visit in a Tanning Bed Increases Your Chance of Cancer by 57 Percent

Published on September 29, 2015


Tanning beds can be easier to find on college campuses than fast food.

Colleges and universities in the United States are making tanning accessible and convenient for students. Some colleges provide indoor tanningbeds on campus or in housing complexes, which often accept campus cash cards as payment. Colleges and universities are using indoor tanning as a “perk” for college students. View photos from the briefing on our Facebook page.

On May 20th the Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program, a program of the Prevent Cancer Foundation, and Disruptive Women in Health Care co-hosted a briefing held on Capitol Hill that raised concerns about the dangers of indoor tanning beds and their accessibility to college students. Melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, is the most common cancer in the 25-29 age group.

Someone dies from melanoma every hour, and nearly 10,000 people will die of the disease this year. So why are people not taking skin cancer more seriously? Why are colleges and universities making indoor tanning so easy, convenient and accessible?

Dr. Sherry Pagoto of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, launched a study to understand the availability of tanning on college campuses and the relationship between colleges and salons. Tanning salons have convinced young adults that tanning is a must. Dr. Pagoto said, “Tanning is a part of the American teenager’s diet.” Tanning salons offer free visits to college kids on hundreds of campuses nationwide. Students are able to use their campus cards, typically funded by parents, to pay for tanning sessions. Dr. Pagoto stressed the importance for parents to look into what companies are advertising on campuses and offering perks to students. If your child attends a school where tanning salons are easily accessed, you can write to the administration to convince them to change their practices. Don’t let your kids make deadly choices on your dime.

Representative Rosa DeLauro, a passionate leader on regulating and labeling tanning beds, referred to tanning beds as “carcinogen delivery systems.” She noted that many regular tanners are minors who started in middle school. She has been pushing for legislation to ban children from using tanning beds. She added that tanning salons often dismiss scientific evidence proving their beds are deadly. She said “Make your voices heard. That’s the only way we make change,” encouraging everyone to help advocate for this legislation and get the knowledge out there that tanning salons are deadly.

Representative Charlie Dent, a leader on colorectal and skin cancer issues, said, “Jumping into a tanning booth is the equivalent to lighting up a cigarette.” He stressed it’s time to treat tanning like cigarettes- stop tanning companies from marketing to minors, spread the knowledge that tanning is dangerous and advocate for more regulations on tanning salons.

Dr. Elizabeth L. Tanzi of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery and Associate Professor of Dermatology at George Washington University Medical Center shared her personal battle with skin cancer to encourage others to check themselves out. In college, Dr. Tanzi felt the pressure to use tanning beds. Twenty years later, that pressure caused melanoma. Dr. Tanzi stressed the importance of examining your skin for any changes or abnormal moles and to see their dermatologists regularly to get checked. Don’t let the pressure to look tan at weddings or parties bring you to the tanning salon; the risk of skin cancer heavily outweighs the short-term results of tanning.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States yet is too often ignored as a serious health risk. Use your voice and advocate for harsher restrictions on tanning beds and enforce the fact that tanning is deadly. Just one session in a tanning bed increases your risk for melanoma by 57 percent. Is it really worth the risk? Talk to your representatives today to fight for a change.

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