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Indoor tanning linked to higher cancer rates than smoking

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Posted: Friday, February 28, 2014 1:06 am

Striving for that perfect sun-kissed glow this Spring Break could be harmful.

The number of skin cancer cases due to indoor tanning is higher than the number of lung cancer cases due to smoking, according to a study published by JAMA Dermatology.

While college students flock toward the ultraviolet radiation emitted by these tanning beds, skin cancer rates may be growing.

UF assistant professor of dermatology Michael Wangia said he has noticed an increase in skin cancer cases over the last five years.

“It’s not unusual seeing a 19- or 20-year-old with skin cancer come in to our clinic,” Wangia said.

Indoor tanning leads to informal aging and an increased risk of skin malignancies, Wangia said. The safest alternative to indoor tanning is spray tanning.

“I think by and large, the most important thing is really to have a level of sun protection,” Wangia said.

But as Spring Break approaches, more college students turn to indoor tanning.

Dustin Perkins, manager of Hot Spot Tanning Spa, said the salon receives about double the business around this time of the year.

“(People) are just trying to look good before they go out of town on their vacation,” Perkins, 25, said. “They’re all going places and don’t want to burn when they do go to the beach.”

In the U.S., 419,254 cases of skin cancer can be attributed to indoor tanning, according to the study. Out of this number, 6,199 are case of melanoma, the most deadly kind of skin cancer.

Evelyn de la Vega, a 20-year-old UF public relations senior, said the multitude of regulations placed on indoor tanning show how unsafe the practice is.

“I don’t think that it’s worth it,” de la Vega said. “I’d rather be pale and weird looking than have to deal with skin cancer.”

[A version of this story ran on page 4 on 2/28/2014 under the headline "Indoor tanning linked to higher cancer rates than smoking"]

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