The Sunshine State has more indoor tanning facilities than McDonald's restaurants, according to a new study.
The research, published in the journal JAMA Dermatology, revealed that Florida has a total of 1,261 tanning facilities, which breaks down to one tanning salon for every 50 square miles -- or one per 15,113 people. As points of comparison, Florida has 868 McDonald's, 693 CVS pharmacies and 756 Publix supermarkets. In fact, the only business the researchers surveyed that was more prevalent than tanning salons was Bank of America ATMs, with a total of 1,455 throughout the state. The study was first reported by HealthDay News.
The sheer number of tanning facilities is concerning, as indoor tanning has been linked with melanoma (the deadliest type of skin cancer), squamous cell carcinoma and ocular melanoma, or cancer of the eye, according to the CDC, in addition to wrinkles and skin texture changes. Tanning beds and booths expose skin to both UVA and UVB rays, and, in particular, the melanoma risk for people who start tanning before the age of 35 jumps 59 percent. According to the researchers of the new study, Florida has the second highest melanoma rate in the country.
"Recently, availability of indoor tanning facilities has drastically increased, and this business has become one of the fastest growing industries. Despite tanning bed exposure being labeled as 'carcinogenic to humans,' increasing use by adolescents is a concern," the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine researchers wrote in their findings. "The prevalence of indoor tanning facilities in Florida compared with commonly frequented businesses in our study has alarming implications ... Further investigation of the impact of indoor tanning facility type, geographic location, and use on skin cancer incidence may promote regulation of these carcinogenic devices."
The prevalence of indoor tanning facilities isn't unique to Florida. On an average day, more than 1 million U.S. people use tanning salons, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, and nearly 28 million people tan indoors in the country annually.