Despite health risk, students flock to tanning beds before break

(U-WIRE) Tanning beds near campuses have seen business spike in the weeks leading up to Spring Break, but while students may be doing tanning salons a favor, tanning does no favor for the skin, said Susan Griffith, a University of Kentucky doctor.

Many people try and build a base tan at a tanning bed to avoid burning in the actual sun, but this practice is dangerous, Griffith said.

“There is no safe way to tan,” she said. “Every study shows a direct link between tanning beds and skin cancer.”

Even with the results of these studies, Griffith said she does not believe that the number of people tanning has declined.

“People worry about the effects of X-rays on their bodies, but not about the effects of harmful rays on their skin,” she said. “Some people just don’t realize that a tan is really sun damage.”

Heather Roby, a middle school education sophomore, said she feels like she looks better when she has a tan, and tanning could help her avoid getting burned over the break.

“If I am going to be out in the sun a lot during the break, I feel like my visits to the tanning bed will keep me from getting burned since I will already have a base tan,” Roby said.

A 15 to 30 minute visit to the tanning bed is equal to an entire day at the beach, and the dark skin a tanner develops from the radiation is the skin’s biological response to injury, according to the University Health Service Web site.

Finance freshman Lacey Storie said she has been tanning for 15 minutes four times a week to get her skin ready for Spring Break, and said she is not really worried about the potential health risks.

Roby said she is concerned about her tanning habits leading to skin cancer, and while she continues to tan, she limits her visits.

“I normally do not tan more than once a week, and I only tan prior to certain occasions,” Roby said.

Roby and Storie are not the only students seeking a glow for the break.

Sarah White and Stacy Kaenzig, employees at Tan 101, located in the Coliseum Plaza at the corner of Rose Street and Avenue of Champions, said the establishment’s business always doubles during the weeks prior to Spring Break.

“Business is steady year round,” White said, “but before the break, there is always a wait for all of the beds.”

Corey Alexander, an employee at Tan Zone on Waller Avenue, said students are tanning like crazy the week before Spring Break.

“We are busy in the spring, but the week before the break is nonstop,” Alexander said.

The University Health Service site emphasizes the effects of unprotected and prolonged exposure to UV radiation. The risks include skin cancer, premature aging and alteration of pigmentation.

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