Sun & Skin News

Dangers of Indoor Tanning on College Campuses

By Julie Bain • April 20, 2022
tanning bed

At The Skin Cancer Foundation, we’ve been fighting for years to raise awareness (and motivate action) about the strong link between indoor tanning and the rise of dangerous melanoma in young women. That’s why we were thrilled to announce Allure magazine’s report about the wide availability of indoor tanning on college campuses as our 2016 Media Award winner at our Champions for Change Gala in October.

The warnings in the article are more relevant than ever. Earlier this month a study in JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association added more fuel to the fire when it concluded that indoor tanning is “a likely factor in the steeper increase in melanoma rates among younger women compared with men.” The study authors also said, “The melanoma epidemic can be expected to continue unless indoor tanning is restricted and reduced.”

In her shocking reporting for Allure, writer Jenna Rosenstein investigated why so many colleges let their students tan for free on or near campus. “By permitting a tanning salon to operate on campus — or by maintaining a financial relationship with tanning salons through campus cards — universities appear to endorse indoor tanning, even if they don’t intend to,” she wrote.

She cites scary statistics like these: “Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is now the most common cancer among people aged 25 to 29. Indoor tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors.”

In her article, Rosenstein also talks with the mother of a girl who had been an avid indoor tanner from the age of 14. The young woman died of melanoma at the age of 29.

While it takes a while to change behavior, the article does say that awareness of the dangers is growing. And there is some good news: “Tanning-bed use is on the decline in the U.S. This decline aligns with some changes in university policies.” Let’s keep that momentum going!

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