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Indoor Tanning: The Skin Cancer Risk You Don't Know About

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You go to the gym to get fit and healthy. So why is it that more and more exercise facilities are offering a service that's been shown to cause cancer? FITNESS investigates.

That Healthy Glow

Imagine you've just finished your 45-minute Spinning class. In the room next door, you lift a few weights, feeling pleased with your slowly improving strength. Then you're ready for a quick nutritious snack and a shower. Next up: the tanning bed, to get that "healthy" glow. However, it's not that healthy.

Women who indoor-tan once a month or more have a 55 percent higher risk of developing melanoma than non-tanners, according to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. And doing it before age 35 ups your chances by 75 percent, reports the International Journal of Cancer. (Indoor tanners are also 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma, which causes about 2,500 deaths in the U.S. annually, and 1.5 times more likely to get basal cell carcinoma.) Part of the reason: High-pressure sunlamps emit doses of UV radiation that can be as much as 12 times stronger than the sun.

"Essentially, 20 minutes in a tanning bed can do as much damage as five hours of natural sunlight," says Ohio dermatologist Louis Barich, MD

But tanning salons know their market: a woman who wants to feel her best -- and they're hoping you think tanning is a quick, easy beauty boost. In the past five years, an increasing number of fitness clubs have added tanning beds to their facilities, according to John Overstreet, the executive director of the Indoor Tanning Association. Large national franchises such as Anytime Fitness and Snap Fitness (both based in Minnesota, with more than 600 locations each) offer tanning in about 80 percent of their clubs. Planet Beach, a tanning franchise, shares space with chains like Gold's Gym and Fitness 19, which offer brand-name bronzing just steps from workout equipment.

It's shocking to know that as skin cancer rates rise, indoor tanning just seems to get more convenient. FITNESS found 8 tanning facilities within 10 blocks of a popular Manhattan gym, 45 within 5 miles of a Los Angeles gym, and 19 within 5 miles of a Cherry Hill, New Jersey, health club. "It's not surprising," says Todd Beckman, president and CEO of the Tan Company, a Missouri-based chain of 70-plus salons. "Both businesses cater to body-conscious women who want to look good." Mark Daly, spokesperson for Anytime Fitness, corroborates that notion, saying, "about 75 percent of our tanners are female."

Next:  Women in Denial


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jenwittig wrote:

I don't know about y'all but I'm thinking Nicole Kidman is very beautiful in her ivory skin.

1/5/2010 01:53:11 PM Report Abuse

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