Almost six years ago, I blogged about how the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) had received a substantial grant from Coca-Cola to provide "educational information" about nutritional aspects of the soft drink on its web site, FamilyDoctor.org (see: American Academy of Family Physicians Cozies Up to Coke). I commented at that time that it appeared to me that this medical society needed more money for some purpose, perhaps paying the salaries of its executive officers, and that it was willing to compromise its ethical and professional standards to pursue this goal. This previous note came to mind when I encountered another serious ethical lapse on the part of the University of Louisville (see: Despite Dangers, University Provides Free Tanning After $3 Million Deal). Below is the article in its entirety:
In 2008, Sun Tan City, a chain of tanning salons based out of Elizabethtown, Ky., gave $3 million to the University of Louisville for the expansion of ...[its stadium]. As a result of the financial support bestowed upon the university by this local business, Sun Tan City became a partner of Louisville Athletics with advertisements at university sporting events. Furthermore, in their role as the "Official Tanning Center" for the University of Louisville Spirit Squad, members of both the Louisville cheerleading team as well the Lady Birds are allowed to use Sun Tan City services free of charge.
I don't need to belabor the point about the connection between tanning beds and melanoma. Let me just provide a quote from the WHO web site about this topic (see: Tanning Beds:WHO Issues Official Warning):
....[T]he International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)...added ultraviolet (UV) radiation-emitting tanning devices - tanning beds and lamps - to the list of the most dangerous forms of cancer-causing radiation....The IARC report cited research showing that tanning is especially hazardous to young people; those who use sunbeds before age 30 increase their lifetime risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 75 percent....And melanoma isn't the only problem: people who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma kills an estimated 2,500 Americans a year.
In my opinion, many universities have completely lost their way, most particularly with regard to their sports programs which are now an integral part of the global entertainment/sports industry. Some of them will do almost anything to gain additional revenue. As seen here, one university is promoting and advocating for their students the use of devices, tanning beds, that increase the lifetime risk of various types of cancer such a malignant melanoma. If it was legal, I suspect that they might also advertise cigarettes on their stadium scoreboards.