Lured by the Lamp: Tanning Beds on College Campuses Pose Skin Cancer Risks


Many parents may not even realize that one of the advertised “perks” of some university housing is free access to tanning facilities, but students going after that extra glow in tanning beds could eventually find themselves face to face with a dangerous adversary: skin cancer.

A recent study published in JAMA Dermatology reveals that half of the top 125 U.S. colleges and universities listed in U.S. News and World Report have indoor tanning facilities either on campus or in nearby residential areas that house students. While tobacco and alcohol are not allowable purchases on many campuses, the research revealed that 14 percent of those colleges allowed students to use campus cash to pay for indoor tanning—a known carcinogen.

What’s the real cancer risk? The numbers tell a daunting story: The American Academy of Dermatology already lists melanoma as the No. 1 cancer among adults 25 to 29—and the incidence rate of this deadly form of skin cancer is on the rise. Indoor tanning can actually increase melanoma risk by 75 percent when tanning bed use starts before the age of 30, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

While the risks of indoor tanning have been well publicized in the media, many young adults continue to flock to indoor tanning booths to get their glow on. To combat this trend, health associations and other concerned groups may need to step up their messages in order for tanners to fully get the picture. In a recent study, researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center found that graphic images of skin cancer proved more powerful than text-only warnings in dissuading young women from using tanning beds.

With everything we know today about the high risk of skin cancer and UV damage from tanning—indoors and out—it’s just not worth the risk. If you have a teen headed off to college this fall, educate them so they aren’t tempted by the tanning bed craze. And make sure they know to always practice safe sun habits by applying a sunscreen, like REVERSE Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ Sunscreen, to exposed skin and limiting their time under the sun’s risky UV rays.

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  1. As a 3 time Melanoma survivor I absolutely love that R&F is bringing this to the forefront. I am a new consultant & am pushy anyways about sunscreen.
    Thank you R&F

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