WEDNESDAY, Oct. 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Many U.S. colleges have indoor tanning salons on or near campus, even though tanning increases the risk for skin cancer, researchers report.
Tanning remains popular among young adults, particularly white women, so colleges should adopt tanning-free policies, to help protect students' health, the researchers said.
"Public health efforts are needed to raise university administration and student population awareness of the harms that indoor tanning poses to young adults in order to increase demand for policy-related action," the study authors wrote.
"The presence of indoor tanning facilities on and near college campuses may passively reinforce indoor tanning in college students, thereby facilitating behavior that will increase their risk for skin cancer both in the short term and later in life," the researchers, led by Sherry Pagoto, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Mass., added.
In conducting the study, the researchers investigated the top 125 colleges ranked by U.S. News & World Report. They made phone calls and searched the Internet to find out where local tanning services were located in each college town.
The investigators also inquired about payment options at each indoor tanning facility to find out how students could pay for services.
The study, published online Oct. 29 in the journal JAMA Dermatology, found that 48 percent of the colleges examined have indoor tanning facilities either on campus or nearby in off-campus housing.
Of all the colleges included in the study, 12 percent had indoor tanning available on campus. Meanwhile 42 percent had this service in off-campus housing, according to a journal news release.
As for payment options, students could use their campus cash cards to pay for tanning services at about 14 percent of the colleges in the study, and most off-campus housing facilities that had tanning beds on-site allowed tenants to tan free of charge, the researchers found.
"In step with tobacco-free policies, tanning-free policies on college campuses may have high potential to reduce skin cancer risk in young adults," the study authors concluded.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about the dangers of indoor tanning.