Campus alert status is green: For the latest UMMS campus alert status, news and resources, visit

Search Close Search


Sherry Pagoto to raise awareness of tanning bed health concerns at Washington, D.C., forum

Advocates urge young people to say no to tanning, push for tougher restrictions

By Sarah Willey

UMass Medical School Communications

mayo 19, 2015
  Sherry Pagoto, PhD, associate professor of medicine at UMass Medical School.
  Sherry Pagoto, PhD, associate professor of medicine at UMass Medical School

Behavioral psychologist Sherry Pagoto, PhD, will call attention to the dangers of indoor tanning Wednesday at a Washington, D.C. forum presented by the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s Congressional Families Program and Disruptive Women in Health Care.

Dr. Pagoto, associate professor of medicine at UMass Medical School, led a study published in JAMA Dermatology last October that found among U.S. News and World Report’s 125 top colleges, 48 percent had indoor tanning facilities either on campus or in off-campus housing surrounding the schools. More than half a million students have access to tanning beds on campus, representing 12 percent of the schools surveyed.

What many young people don’t realize is that more than 419,000 cases of skin cancer are linked to tanning beds, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.  Tanning only once can increase a person’s risk of developing melanoma by 20 percent, the data shows, and those who use tanning beds 10 or more times have a 34 percent increased risk.

Pagoto will join Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Rep. Charlie Dent, Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, co-director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery, and Briana Bilbray Baleskie, a melanoma survivor, to highlight why tanning beds are a pressing problem across college and university campuses.

The event is being held in tandem with Skin Awareness Month and precedes Memorial Day Weekend and National “Don’t Fry Day” on Friday, May 22, to encourage sun safety awareness and to remind everyone to protect their skin.

In an effort to protect young people and stop them from using tanning salons, 41 states have laws restricting the use of tanning beds by minors, either through bans or parental consent requirements, according to the Melanoma Foundation of New England. In Massachusetts, minors need a parent’s consent to tan at a facility. An effort is underway to ban minors in Massachusetts from using tanning salons.