Nav: Home

A carcinogen at the gym

July 18, 2018

Gyms are places people go to get healthier. But nearly half the gyms in the U.S. contain a potentially addictive carcinogen - tanning beds, report UConn researchers in the July 18 issue of JAMA Dermatology.

Exercise reduces the risk of every cancer except one - melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. People who exercise heavily are at greater risk of skin cancer, and yet many gyms in the U.S. have tanning beds. In other words, tanning beds in gyms are targeting people who are already at higher risk of skin cancer.

Exercise and tanning are both activities people use to improve their appearance; and people who tan in gyms tan more often - and more addictively - than other people who use tanning beds, according to a study run by UConn psychologist Sherry Pagoto.

Pagoto, a professor of allied health sciences at UConn as well as president of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, points out that "by pairing exercise with tanning beds, gyms send the message that tanning is part of a healthy lifestyle. It is not."

Pagoto and her colleagues surveyed 636 people who had used a tanning bed at least once in their life. Of those people, 24 percent had tanned in a gym at least once. Those who reported tanning at a gym tended to be heavier tanners overall, and were more likely to fit a profile of addictive tanning, agreeing with statements such as "My urges to indoor tan keep getting stronger if I don't indoor tan," and "at times, I have used money intended for bills to pay for my tanning sessions." The study also found that greater tanning was associated with more frequent exercise, which is especially concerning, because of the connection between heavy exercise and skin cancer risk.

"Exercise and tanning are both things people use to look better, which may be why we see a connection between these two behaviors, and why gyms are providing tanning beds to patrons," Pagoto says.

Researchers don't know why exercise is associated with an increased risk of skin cancer. But they do know that the majority of skin cancers are caused by exposure to ultraviolet light, which is what tanning beds produce. Ongoing, occasional use of tanning beds triples a person's lifelong risk of melanoma, according to the Melanoma Research Foundation, and the incidence of skin cancer has been rising for 30 years in the U.S. About 91,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2018, and about 9,000 will die from it, according to the American Cancer Society.

"Indoor tanning is the same class of carcinogen as tobacco, radon, and arsenic," says Pagoto. "Those are not things you'd want around you while you're working out."
-end-
This study was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control: CDC U48DP001933.

University of Connecticut

Related Cancer Articles:

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.
Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.
More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.
New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.
American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.
Oncotarget: Cancer pioneer employs physics to approach cancer in last research article
In the cover article of Tuesday's issue of Oncotarget, James Frost, MD, PhD, Kenneth Pienta, MD, and the late Donald Coffey, Ph.D., use a theory of physical and biophysical symmetry to derive a new conceptualization of cancer.
Health indicators for newborns of breast cancer survivors may vary by cancer type
In a study published in the International Journal of Cancer, researchers from the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center analyzed health indicators for children born to young breast cancer survivors in North Carolina.
Few women with history of breast cancer and ovarian cancer take a recommended genetic test
More than 80 percent of women living with a history of breast or ovarian cancer at high-risk of having a gene mutation have never taken the test that can detect it.
More Cancer News and Cancer Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.