Over the course of 2012, there was a lot of national attention placed on the nation’s obesity epidemic. However, in addition to the war on obesity, there’s another war raging in the U.S., somewhat behind the scenes — the war on melanoma and other skin cancers.
The January/February 2013 issue of Women’s Health highlighted this issue. Meg Cassidy, a writer for Women’s Health, wrote:
“According to a recent Mayo Clinic study, the incidence of melanoma has increased eightfold among women ages 18 to 39 since 1970 … and despite a ton of information on the dangers of indoor tanning — including a startling new study just published in the British Medical Journal estimating that indoor tanning accounts for more than 170,000 cases of nonmelanoma skin cancers in the U.S. each year — a surprising number of college-age women are using indoor tanning beds because they see it as a healthier alternative to lying out in the sun.”
This is a sad thought, as studies have proven that indoor tanning is most definitely not a healthier alternative (“Indoor tanning before age 35 ups the risk for melanoma by 75 percent” — Women’s Health, January/February 2013, pg. 160). According to Cassidy, this spread in misinformation, “is in part due to tanning salons not providing accurate facts about skin cancer and other risks to their clients.”
As a health club, I hope that you’re not taking a page out of the same book as tanning salons. As a health club — emphasis on the “health” — it should be your goal to aid in the fitness and wellness of your members, and that includes the wellness of their skin. In turn, which means educating your members fully on the dangers of tanning, indoor and outdoor, alike. After all, what good is it for your members to look great externally, but end up dying of skin cancer in the long run?
I realize this may be a bit controversial, as it seems like I could be shaming clubs for offering tanning to members. I do realize the appeal — it’s another revenue source for your club, and as Cassidy mentioned in Women’s Health, “we live in a culture in which being tan is ideal … and then there’s what every dermatologist doesn’t want to admit when it comes to golden-brown skin: It makes you look thinner.”
Basically, you could argue — your members want it, and you’re just being accommodating, by providing them a service they could and would be getting elsewhere.
Is the revenue from tanning worth the risk of assisting members in their potential contraction of skin cancer? Keep this is mind — a quick buck for you club through tanning, may lead to a life of misery for your members. According to Cassidy, “What worries dermatologists almost as much as the skyrocketing rates of melanoma is young women’s misinformation about how treatable the disease is. While most cases of skin cancer are curable — even Melanoma, if it’s caught early — too many women seem to think it’s no big deal.”
Although the article focused on women, this warning goes for men too. Cancer doesn’t draw a line when it comes to gender bias.
My well-intentioned advice to you — leave the tanning options to the tanning salons. Just as cigarettes, pizza, and over-indulgences, shouldn’t have a place inside your club’s walls, neither should tanning beds. And if you must offer tanning to your members, educate them on the possible consequences of what they could be getting themselves into, as they crawl into the tanning bed.
Rachel Zabonick is the assistant editor for Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at email@example.com. Reach out to her about exciting events or programs your club has implemented, or to share the amazing accomplishments of a member.