For Nursing freshman Christine Brown, tanning before vacationing in sunny locations is necessary to prevent severe burning.
“It is a big concern for me because I”m fair skinned, and skin cancer runs in my family,” said Brown, who also uses sunscreen at the tanning salon.
Despite medical risks, including skin cancer, tanning before spring break has become a tradition for many University students.
“I”d like to tan ahead of time, so I won”t get burned in Florida during spring break,” LSA freshman Lauren Reed said.
Though tanning may seem to lessen the risk of sun burn, a new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute said that people who use tanning devices are 1.5 to 2.5 times more likely to have common kinds of skin cancer than people who do not use the devices.
“You will be happy about tanning now, but when you”re 40, you”ll look 50,” said Dane Christensen, chief resident of the department of dermatology at the University Hospital.
After seeing 30 year olds with six months to live because of skin cancer, Christensen said he strongly encourages people to be sun smart.
To do this, Christensen said he instructs people to use sunscreen and beach umbrellas when outside, and tells them to limit sun exposure.
“There are no regulations on what kinds of bulbs they use or what wavelength they are putting out,” Christensen said.
Joseph Levy, vice president of the International Smart Tan Network and spokesman for the Indoor Tanning Association, said the medical community places too much emphasis on the risks of tanning.
He added that there needs to be a critical balance between risks and benefits when it comes to tanning.
“It is as dangerous as encouraging people to sunburn,” Levy said.
He added that the study is not a threat to the tanning industry because the study incorporated people who used home tanning devices as early as 1975, before the tanning industry existed.
The home devices used almost all UV light and came with no directions, he said.
Levy also said that he questioned the motives of the timing of the release of the study.
“Timing of this was no accident,” Levy said.
Despite the warnings, this year”s tanning rush is right on time, said Krista Price, store manager of the Tanfastic tanning salon on South Main Street.
Business started picking up a few weeks ago, she said.
On Tuesday alone, Tanfastic reported more than 200 customers compared to the normal daily average of 80 customers in the off-season.
“Between now and when students leave for the summer is our biggest season,” Price said.