The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Tanned bodies come with health risks

Like many other women at SMU, Meagan McHone started tanning at a salon her freshmen year in high school, when she was 14.

“My sister and one of her friends dragged me to go tanning for the first time because they made fun of my pasty skin tone,” McHone said.

She started out tanning once or twice a week and it later developed into an everyday habit.

McHone started working at the local tanning salon in Newport Beach, Calif., the summer after her sophomore year in high school. Since she worked at the tanning salon, she tanned for free and got discounts on tanning lotions.

McHone said her favorite tanning lotion was called Ambrosia. Ambrosia is a unique tan-enhancing swirl that combines the moisture of a rich lotion with the fast-absorbing action and lightness of a gel, according to

Today, McHone is a junior at SMU and she continues to tan three to four times a week. McHone, like other young women and teens, is aware of the risks associated with indoor tanning but doesn’t care.

“I think you can get skin cancer just as easily from being in the sun as you can in a tanning bed. I think more people tanning and the raise in skin cancer is just a coincidence,” McHone said.

However, melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is occurring at a much younger age than it used to. Half of all melanoma cases are found in people under the age of 57, according to the American Cancer Society. It is most common in young adults between the ages of 20 and 30, according to the Melanoma Research Foundation.

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 59,580 new melanoma cases will be diagnosed in the United States during 2005. They estimate that about 7,770 people in the United States will die from melanoma this year. Since 1973, the mortality rate for melanoma has increased by 50 percent.

“There is no history of skin cancer in my family, and I try to only tan for special occasions, such as formal,” junior Crissy McCauley said.

Last year, more than 1 million cases of skin cancer were diagnosed in the United States, which exceeds the incidences of all other cancers combined. The American Academy of Dermatology estimated that there were about 95,880 cases of melanoma in 2004, which represents a 4 percent increase from 2003.

The American Academy of Dermatology reports that every day, more than 1 million people go to tanning salons.

“I can’t stand they way I look when I’m pale. So I just go tanning,” McCauley said. Regulation of the $5 billion tanning salon industry in the United States is limited. The manufacturers of indoor tanning equipment are regulated at the federal level, but only 29 states regulate tanning salon operations.

A national study of 6,903 non-Hispanic white adolescents aged 13 to 19 found that indoor tanning is influenced by demographics, the use of controlled substances, appearance-related factors and psychosocial factors. The study, “Use of Indoor Tanning Facilities by White Adolescents in the United States,” was published in the September 2003 issue of Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine.

When the national population was taken into consideration, 36.8 percent of young women reported using a tanning booth at least once in their life. The number of young women who reported using tanning booths also increased with age. The study found that 47 percent of young women aged 18 to 19 reported using a tanning booth three or more times.

“I know all of my friends have been to the tanning salon at least once in their life. I don’t think I know anyone my age that hasn’t been,” McHone said.

Geographic regions also influenced the use of indoor tanning, with young women and teens in the Midwest and South being two to three times more likely to use tanning beds than the rest of the country.à

“More students use tanning beds in the north because it’s colder a lot longer. There’s less time during the year to be outside tanning. We have to tan if we want any color,” said Christina Larson, a junior at Michigan State University.

However, young women with a college-educated mother and greater cognitive ability were less likely to tan. Also, routine participation in physical activity also significantly lowered the odds of indoor tanning.

“It just wouldn’t be right for a Latin-American like myself to go into the tanning bed because we are suppose to be tan naturally,” junior Ana Ortiz said.

A Palm Beach Tan employee, who asked not to be identified, said that 50 percent of their clients are either high school or college aged.

Palm Beach Tan members can purchase individual sessions, weekly memberships and annual memberships. With a membership, members can choose from a wide range of beds with different levels of bulb intensity.

Palm Beach Tan offers lower level beds like the SunDash Competition 226G — Silver and the SunDash Competition 226GF – Gold. It also offers higher-level beds like the Ergoline AvantGarde 600 — Upgrade-Level 3 Platinum Plus and the Ergoline Classic 650 — Upgrade-Level 3 Platinum Plus, according to

The Palm Beach Tan employee said “Simply Divine” and the “Ultra UVA and UVB bronzing bed” are their top-selling lotion and tanning bed.

The Palm Beach Tan employee said a parent’s signature is required for teens under 18 to use the tanning beds and teens under 13 need a doctor’s note.

“It’s way too young to start tanning at 13 or 14. It’s such a bad habit and it’s so addicting,” McCauley said.

Palm Beach Tan requires tanners to wear lotion to prevent radical skin damage and goggles to prevent cornea damage. If a customer has had a history of skin damage, Palm Beach Tan advises them to use Mystic Tan, UV-free spray-on tanning.

“I was a little nervous to try it, but since I had a good base tan it actually turned out well. I wasn’t orange and it was a quick fix when I needed it without exposing myself to the sun,” junior Kat Ewing said.

According to many teens and young adults tanning beds have their advantages. They said they offer a quick fix to a pasty complexion.

“You get tanner faster in one spot under the bulbs than in the sun and it’s too hot to lay out in Texas. Plus you don’t get tan lines,” McHone said.

Teens and young adults can get a tan in less than 20 minutes at a tanning salon, which would take them hours lying out on the beach.

Celebrities are also contributing to the trend. Celebrities like Britney Spears, Tara Reid, Paris Hilton and Christina Aguilera are known for their always-tan complexion.

Young girls see these celebrities in magazines and on TV and want to be just like them. They idolize them.

However, there are people who are aware of the consequences and don’t think being tan is worth it.

“Ever since watching the news on the scares of tanning beds I don’t go. The health risks associated with using a tanning bed freaks me out. Plus I can’t stand the smell,” Ortiz said.

Tanning can also be quite expensive for young adults and teens to afford on their own. Membership packages can range anywhere from $25-$75 per month, depending onthe type of package.

“I don’t tan because I can’t afford it and my mom doesn’t like it when I do,” junior Caroline Zivley said.

Although some young women recognize the consequences associated with tanning, the tanning craze isn’t going to stop anytime soon.

“You’re only young once. I rather look good now and later I won’t mind if I’m old and wrinkly,” McHone said.

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