How Colleges are Using Tanning Beds to Lure Students

New research shows a startling new trend – nearly half of colleges in the U.S. are using free or very cheap tanning beds to lure students, despite the prospective dangers connected to their use. In 2009, international cancer experts moved tanning beds and other sources of ultraviolet radiation into the top cancer risk category, deeming them as deadly as arsenic and mustard gas.

A study out of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, published online on October 29 in JAMA Dermatology, discovered that tanning beds are available either on campus or in off-campus housing in 48 percent of the nation’s colleges. A half-million students are said to have access to tanning beds on campus.

In about 14 percent of the colleges that offer tanning on campus, “campus cash” debit cards can be used for the services. At approximately 96 percent of off-campus housing tanning facilities, the service is totally free.

What may be even more disconcerting is that adults who are under 30 have a 75% higher risk of getting skin cancer when using tanning beds – and the number of young adults diagnosed with this condition is increasing every year.

Melissa Piliang, MD, told NBC News: “The rate of melanoma-type skin cancer in young people is increasing by 6 percent per year, and at least some of that is related to tanning-bed use.”

Lead author of the study, Sherry Pagoto, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at University of Massachusetts Medical School, noted that melanoma, the deadly form of skin cancer, is on the rise among young people and has become the number one cancer in young adults aged 25 to 29.

Pagoto continued, “It’s one of those cancers that’s actually sneaking up on us. People don’t usually think of skin cancer of being a super prevalent cancer, one to be concerned about, but it really is sneaking up on us, particularly in young people and the reason is because of exposure to ultraviolet radiation, and that includes obviously in tanning salons.”

Earlier research has shown that those who begin tanning early in life can also develop a dangerous addiction to this bad habit, revealing that those with a dependence to tanning often have obsessive thoughts about it and a compulsion that’s similar to symptoms of other addicts.

Tanning bed solariumThe Indoor Tanning Association, not surprisingly, disagrees with the expert assessments, releasing a statement saying that there was “no consensus among researchers regarding the relationship between melanoma skin cancer and UV exposure from the sun or a sunbed.”

Pagoto hopes that colleges will change their attitude about this dangerous habit, urging them to
attract students with healthier options like gyms and healthy dining, and treat tanning like they do tobacco by banning tanning beds on campus.

-The Alternative Daily


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