MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Sherry Pagoto, PhD
Director, UConn Center for mHealth and Social Media
President, Society of Behavioral Medicine
UConn Institute for Collaboration in Health, Interventions, and Policy
Professor, Department of Allied Health Sciences
University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT 06268
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Recent research has shown that while physical activity is associated with reduced risk for many cancers, it is associated with an increased risk for melanoma. We are not sure why this is the case, however, we have noticed that popular gym chains (e.g., Planet Fitness) often offer tanning beds, which are carcinogenic.
We surveyed over 600 people who had used a tanning bed at least once in their life to see how many had used tanning beds in gyms. About one-quarter had used tanning beds in gyms and those folks actually tanned significantly more than people who had not tanned in gyms. Gym tanners were also more likely to show signs of “tanning addiction.” We also found an association between tanning and physical activity, such that the people who were the most physically active were the heaviest tanners.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: People who lead a physically active lifestyle should be careful to resist any temptation to use tanning beds when they go to the gym. It appears tanning in gyms is associated with heavier tanning habits, perhaps because gyms make tanning convenient and affordable. Gym owners should be aware that they may be unknowingly contributing to their patrons risk for cancer by offering tanning beds.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: We should explore why gyms are offering tanning beds to patrons and if they are aware that physically active people are at higher risk for melanoma. Gyms are where people go to get healthy so by offering tanning beds, gyms are sending the message that tanning is part of a healthy lifestyle and it is most definitely not.
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