Health

The top universities in the country offer students access to tanning services, according to researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

The study examined the top 125 universities ranked by U.S. News and World Report in 2013 and found that 48 percent of them have indoor tanning facilities either on campus or in off-campus housing. 

Sherry Pagoto, associate professor of medicine and principal investigator of the study, said she believes many university administrators don’t know the risks associated with indoor tanning.

“Universities are probably not aware that indoor tanning is a major risk factor for melanoma and they’re probably also not aware that melanoma rates are increasing among young adults and that increase has been attributed at least in part to indoor tanning,” she said.  

The American Cancer Society estimates that 76,100 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in 2014.

Kentucky’s  rate of new melanoma diagnoses was 14 percent higher than the national average from 2002 to 2006, according to research by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Kentucky also had the sixth highest melanoma death rate nationally during that same time period.

The study also found that 14 percent of schools allow students to use campus cards for local tanning salons.

The University of Kentucky was one of the schools included in the study. UK students can use their Plus Account to pay for services at three different tanning salon chains in Lexington and Nicholasville, Ky., — Bella Bronze Tanning, Southern Rays Tanning and Sun Tan City.

“Tanning businesses will try to find areas where they’re going to be close to their consumer base–colleges, high schools, anywhere  where you’re going to find a heavy concentration of young women,” Pagoto said.

Pagoto said campuses should adopt the same attitude they have towards having smoke-free campuses to tanning and implement a tan-free campus.

“We know tanning is not a healthy behavior and so if campuses really want to embrace a healthy campus we have to think about all of the risks associated with young adulthood and tanning is a big one,” Pagoto said.