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January 8, 2017

Study prompts universities to end affiliations with indoor tanning salons

  • Medical School
UMass Medical School study prompts other universities to end practice of allowing students to use campus credit cards for tanning sessions.

Two years after Sherry Pagoto, PhD, professor of medicine, documented the large number of American colleges and universities allowing students to pay for indoor tanning beds with campus debit cards, 23 of the 37 schools have ended the practice, according to a new report in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Research has shown indoor tanning is associated with increased risk of melanoma, particularly among teenagers and young adults.

“If we can prevent people from using tanning beds through age 22, we will be likely to prevent most use as most people pick up the habit before then,” Dr. Pagoto said.

After reviewing the top 150 residential colleges in the United States, Pagoto and colleagues found that 26.6 percent had a campus debit card that could be used to purchase tanning services. The researchers contacted officials at the 37 identified universities and encouraged them to dissolve their affiliations with tanning salons.

“We are pleased that so many universities were responsive to our efforts,” Pagoto said.

Several states have also passed legislation that bans minors from indoor tanning. While researchers are encouraged that 15 states, including Massachusetts, have now banned indoor tanning for minors, they remain concerned that college-aged adults have the highest rates of indoor tanning use.

Through the Indoor Tan-Free Skin Smart Campus Initiative, Pagoto, who is a co-chair of the organization, and others will continue to target universities and encourage their administration to adopt policies that promote healthy choices among students. The researchers are urging university administrators to commit to a policy of prohibiting tanning beds on campus and the use of university-issued debit cards at tanning salons.

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