Don’t be led to believe that tanning beds are good for you just because your gym may have them. There is no “safe” way to tan, despite claims otherwise.
A research letter in JAMA Network Open looked at the availability of tanning beds at three of the largest gym chains in the U.S. and found that among 1,727 locations contacted by the researchers in 33 states and Washington, D.C., 78 percent overall offered them. Nearly all Planet Fitness gyms (99 percent) had tanning beds, followed by Anytime Fitness (65 percent) and Gold’s Gym (41 percent). Gyms in the Midwest had the highest concentration.
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation, whether from sunlight or sunlamps, increases skin aging and skin cancer risk, with damage being cumulative—and numerous studies have confirmed a relationship between the use of tanning beds and skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma and melanoma. “Gyms that offer tanning services may be perpetuating the notion that tanning is part of a healthy lifestyle, which undermines public health warnings about the dangers of indoor tanning,” the authors wrote.
Other major gym chains, including LA Fitness and 24 Hour Fitness, as well as many local gyms, do not offer indoor tanning.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.
Also see Get Serious About Skin Cancer.