Thursday, February 13, 2014

Fitness Centers & Tanning Beds Don't Mix

Last week CVS, the second largest drugstore chain in the US, announced that it would no longer be selling cigarettes or tobacco products as of October 2014. The CEO said, "The sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose – helping people on their path to better health." It was a bold move that will cost CVS $2 billion in annual revenue. However, lung cancer claims more lives each year than breast, colon, and prostate cancer combined, according to the Oncology Nursing Society. Cigarette smoking kills half a million Americans each year; another 16 million suffer from smoking-related conditions.
BUT WAIT ... A new study has shown that more skin cancer cases are caused by tanning beds than there are lung cancer cases caused by smoking. (See my Jan. 30 blog about this: So this definitely needs some additional thought. 

The World Health Organization lists tobacco as a Group 1 carcinogen (cancer-causing agent), along with arsenic, plutonium, and ... oh, right, tanning beds that zap us with excessive UV radiation for the sake of vanity! 

So what about all the health and fitness centers that also have the goal of promoting good health ... yet offer their membership unlimited use of cancer-causing tanning beds????

There are no statistics that I am aware of that show how many gyms or fitness centers offer tanning beds, because in most states, licenses to operate UV equipment are not required, but many, especially the large franchises, do ... too many. Health/fitness centers do not offer tanning beds for their health benefits (because, duh, there are none!); they offer them to make money.
Most fitness club members are health-conscious. They eat right, exercise, don't smoke ... and yet they then climb into a tanning bed when they are done with their fitness routine. Why? Because many people think that a healthy glow is part of a healthy look; because it is really convenient; and/or because they want that tanning "high."

People go to the gym to workout so they will look good; however, the UV exposure from those tanning beds will give them wrinkles, age spots, leathery skin ... and skin cancers or melanoma, the fatal form of skin cancer. Perhaps they cannot imagine that a health/fitness center selling health and fitness would also be selling cancer!

Skin cancer rates are continuing to climb, and yet these fitness centers are making the use of tanning beds more convenient than ever. According to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, those who tan 1 or more times a month increase their risk of getting melanoma by 55%. And tanning bed use before age 35 increases the chances by 75%. 

A few additional problems with these tanning beds offered by fitness centers and gyms, aside from the obvious health issues, are

  1. their cleanliness -- imagine all the people who worked out and then jumped into that bed, possibly naked, leaving behind all the sweat, germs, and even fecal material just for you!
  2. their lack of regulation and maintenance -- who knows when the lamps were changed last or the bed calibrated, and we're talking radiation here!
  3. unlimited availability -- which means more time for the UV radiation to damage more DNA 
  4. lack of enforcement of eye protection -- which can damage eyes and cause cataracts and ocular melanoma. UV rays can penetrate through the eyelids, so simply closing your eyes in a tanning bed doesn't provide the necessary protection.
  5. availability to minors -- even if state law restricts teens from using tanning beds in tanning salons

Using a tanning bed offers no benefits ... but it could offer a life-time of suffering ... for you or for the loved ones you leave behind. My daughter Jaime would be the first to tell you, if tanning had not killed her, that no tan is worth dying for!!

"Being fit equates with being tan" ... it's a confusing and dangerous message to send, and that is the message that health/fitness centers are sending when they offer tanning beds at their facilities. If the purpose of a fitness center is to promote good health ... then it makes no sense at all to offer indoor UV tanning. CVS was claiming to care about the health of their customers while selling a carcinogen (tobacco products) but has now taken the brave position to no longer sell those products. So then, why can't health/fitness centers step forward to protect the health of their customers instead of selling cancer through their tanning beds????

 Melanoma Mama (Jaime's mom, Donna) (Remember Jaime) (Jjem Creations) (Jjem Creations)


  1. We have the same problem here in the UK. Most of the local council Fitness centres have removed them but private Fitness Centres still have them. I totally agree with you it sends out the completely wrong mesage as tanning is not part of a healthy lifestyle.

    1. I like totally and agree with you.But USA it's not a big matter of problem.You will joined any fitness center.I just share with you a list of Best Fitness Centers in USA with direction.