No Shortage of Tanning Beds for Students at Top Colleges in US

PHOTO: A women is seen in a tanning bed in this file photo. PlayGetty Images
WATCH Nearly Half of Colleges Have Indoor Tanning Facilities on or Near Campus

College students at top schools in the United States have plenty of tanning beds at their disposal, according to a newly published study.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School found that nearly half of the top 125 colleges and universities from the U.S. News and World Report had indoor tanning beds either on campus or in off-campus housing. They also found that more than 500,000 students have access to tanning beds on campus.

"In 14 percent of colleges, the campus cash cards that students can use to make purchases for food and books were able to be used to pay for tanning at local salons," said Dr. Sherry Pagoto, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Indiana University's website advertises that students can use their campus access card at a tanning salon near campus. The university declined comment to ABC News.

The researchers found that 96 percent of off-campus housing that offered tanning beds did so at no charge. One luxurious off-campus apartment complex near the University of Arizona had a tanning bed inside the building.

"One of the myths of indoor tanning is that it provides a safe tan," ABC News senior medical contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton said. "If you speak to any skin expert, any dermatologist will tell you there is no such thing as a safe tan."

A study in the International Journal of Cancer found that 76 percent of melanoma cases among 18 to 29 year olds were attributable to tanning-bed use.

"These indoor tanning salons are dangerous,” Ashton said. “They are expensive, the risks far outweigh any possible benefits and they're unnecessary.”