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New study says tanning salons could be targeting gay men and giving them cancer


Say what?

Photo by GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images

A new study says that tanning salons, which are apparently more concentrated in neighborhoods with high numbers of male gay couples, could be targeting their gay male demographic and giving them cancer.

What are the details?

Researchers at Stanford University's School of Medicine found that tanning salons were twice as likely to be located within one mile of neighborhoods with higher gay population concentrations.

Scientists examined such populations in Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. Previous research determined that gay men are more likely to utilize tanning beds and to suffer from skin cancer as a result.

Dr. Eleni Linos, co-author of the study, said that the findings are alarming.

"This is a big deal, because LGBT communities already experience health disparities related to stigma and discrimination," she said. "In addition, gay men have disproportionately higher rates of skin cancer. Our study is the first to show that indoor tanning — a known carcinogen — is more readily available in neighborhoods with more gay men."

Linos also admitted that she fears the tanning industry could be targeting such communities.

"It's definitely something I am very worried about," she said. "The tobacco industry has been shown to market to high risk communities, including LGBT communities. Having more tanning beds — more availability of this carcinogen — in these neighborhoods may exacerbate health disparities, and the LGBT community needs to know about it."

She noted that it is important to determine whether the tanning industry is targeting what she calls "high-risk communities."

"Our concern is whether the tanning industry is targeting high-risk communities, similar to how the tobacco industry has done in the past, marketing to vulnerable groups," Linos wrote in the report.

"Indoor tanning is a Class 1 carcinogen," she added. "I don't think we can be naïve and think of this as just another business. There's no benefit to indoor tanning. Because we are already seeing very high rates of skin cancer in this community, we need to be particularly vigilant about industry influence."

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