Health In Focus
  • Indoor tanning beds at the gym could be a potential carcinogen that increases skin cancer risk
  • Tanning beds produce ultraviolet light which has been known to increase the risk of developing skin cancer
  • The incidence of skin cancer in the US has been on the increase over the last 30 years
  • According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that approximately 91,000 people will be newly diagnosed with melanoma and about 9,000 might die in 2018.

Tanning beds at the gym may not be healthy and can increase the risk of developing melanoma, a deadly skin cancer according to a recent study conducted by scientists at University of Connecticut (UConn) which appears in the issue of JAMA Dermatology.
Tanning Beds at Gym May Up Skin Cancer Risk

Tanning Beds at Gym

Sherry Pagoto, a professor of allied health sciences at UConn as well as president of the Society of Behavioral Medicine and her colleagues conducted a survey among 636 persons who had used a tanning bed at least once during their lifetime
  • 24 percent of those surveyed had used the tanning bed at the gym at least once
  • Persons who tanned at the gym were generally heavier tanners and appeared to fit a profile consistent with "addictive tanning". These persons reported that they felt the urge to get an indoor tan if they had not had one for some time and also reported they used money set aside for other purposes to pay for tanning services
  • Greater tanning was linked to persons who indulged in more frequent exercise, as per the study findings
Therefore, the findings of the study appear to suggest that exercise and tanning are linked since both activities are believed to promote a healthy lifestyle as well as improve the appearance.

"Exercise and tanning are both things people use to look better, which may be why we see a connection between these two behaviors, and why gyms are providing tanning beds to patrons," Pagoto says. "Indoor tanning is the same class of carcinogen as tobacco, radon, and arsenic. Those are not things you'd want around you while you're working out."

Combination of Exercise and Tanning - Increase Risk of Melanoma Skin Cancer

Pagoto, points out that "By pairing exercise with tanning beds, gyms send the message that tanning is part of a healthy lifestyle. It is not."
  • Interestingly, exercise has been found to decrease the risk of developing all cancers except one - melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer. According to some scientists, people who exercise heavily have a higher chance of developing skin cancer, although the reasons for this are not clear
  • Many gyms in the U.S. have tanning beds. As stated previously, tanning beds produce ultraviolet light which is a skin carcinogen.
  • Most people who indulge in regular exercise at the gym also tend to use tanning beds, sometimes addictively, to improve personal appearances
Thus the pairing of exercise and tanning might increase skin cancer risk more than just exercise alone.

Tips to Reduce Risk of Melanoma

  • Stay indoors especially during the afternoons when it is hotter
  • Wear clothes that protect the arms and legs if you go out in the sun
  • Use a screen that has sun protection factor SPF 15 or more and protects against both UVA and UVB rays
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect face head and neck and ears
  • Avoid using indoor tanning beds; they produce UV rays that are harmful
  • Examine your skin regularly from head to toe and see a doctor if you notice anything new or unusual
Reference :
  1. Prevention Guidelines - Skin Cancer - (

Source: Medindia

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