Experts: Skin cancer rates rising with popularity of tanning

Natalie Pillsbury

As fall approaches, students head to tanning salons to maintain that summer glow. The results of a new study on nonmelanoma skin cancer suggest tanning bed users might want to reconsider their decision.

According to a recent study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, the incidence of nonmelanoma skin cancer has doubled in women under 40 since the 1970s. The study reported only a small increase in men of the same age group.

Experts point to the increased popularity of intentional tanning as the reason behind the higher incidence of skin cancers in young women, according to Salynn Bolyes of WebMD medical news.

College students are avid users of tanning salons, and there are 12 salons located in Kent.

“It’s not fair, really, to blame tanning beds or tanning salons. It’s more about the people using the beds and how they view themselves,” said Sarah Hallsky, a graduate assistant in the Office of Health Promotion. Hallsky is currently developing a program focusing on healthy skin.

“There is a lot of bad information out there,” Hallsky said. “If you go to the tanning salons, they market tanning as being healthy for you, but of course it is not healthy.”

People interested in tanning will seek out information that places it in a favorable light, according to Hallsky.

Cuttin’ Loose, a salon on Main Street in Kent recently made the decision to get rid of tanning beds and replace them with a spray tanning booth.

Sandra Brothers, the owner of Cuttin’ Loose, said she made the decision to remove the tanning beds from her salon because she became tired of dealing with complications related to the beds.

Brothers said people would get burned and come back to the salon to complain. She said when Cuttin’ Loose did use tanning beds, customers were required to sign a disclaimer that removed liability from the salon if any the customer experienced any complications from tanning. There was no specific warning of skin cancer risk in the disclaimer.

Brothers switched to using Aveda products, which are all-natural. Aveda doesn’t believe in using tanning beds, which is why Cuttin’ Loose switched to a spray tanning booth.

“The use is not as good as the tanning beds, but I think it will eventually pick up,” Brothers said.

Brothers said the harmful effects of tanning beds, such as skin cancer risks, also contributed to her decision to remove tanning beds from her salon.

Nonmelanoma skin cancers are highly treatable if they are diagnosed and removed early. For young people, the signs of skin cancer are not immediately noticeable. This can cause more serious problems in the future if the cancer is not detected early.

The DeWeese Health Center on campus offers skin cancer screenings, which are free and available by appointment.

The key to decreasing skin cancer risks is getting the updated, correct information. A Web site that offers credible information on skin cancer and how to prevent it is

Contact general assignment reporter Natalie Pillsbury at [email protected].