Tanning beds invade UWO campus
London, Ontario - Canada

Students at Univ. of Western Ontario burned by sunbed operator

Nina Chiarelli, a Gazette staff writer, feels that suntan parlor owner, and former Western student, Steve Besterd, deserves a big plug at new location at the University Student Centre. I wonder how much advertising space was negotiated by Steve before the interview? Steve Besterd, owner of The Cottage Tanning Co., was a Western student last year and felt there was a market for the tanning service.

"I took business 020 last year and liked it so much that instead of taking biz 257 this year, I figured this would be my project," Besterd said.

Having already owned and run a Dairy Queen, Besterd said he felt he was ready to take on the tanning business and is happy with the results so far. "We've hired four students to work for us and we will be operational by the end of the week," he said.

Besterd also said he was surprised a campus the size of Western did not already have a tanning facility. "I was quite disappointed, because this is the nicest campus I've seen," he said.

Heather Buchan, an education student at Althouse also thinks the idea of a tanning salon is great. "I think a lot of students will use it. People go downtown, and now they won't have to," she said.

The coolest way to kill insects

By Andy J. Gidwani

Andy says that he is is a "budding medical professional". Well here are some comments he made many months after the Gazette published the original article above which boosted the sun tanning industry.

"Tanning salons attempt to bronze your skin the same way the sun naturally carries out the process. The precise definition of tanning is "A process by which, after exposure to ultraviolet rays, the skin gives off enough heat to vaporize insects landing on one's body. Oh, it also turns brown (both skin and insects)."

Each person takes different amounts of time to reach this stage and the appeal of tanning salons is that the process is done much more efficiently. Tanning booths can burn (sorry, I mean TAN) your skin much faster than the sun, so that after a half-hour in a booth, you can vaporize any insect that's giving you problems. Pretty slick, eh?

Tanning has become so popular that there's a tanning parlour in the University Community Centre. For your convenience, I think they may also supply insects to help you gauge your progress. If you're diligent, you can tan in underground comfort and you may never need to go outside again – unless of course you need air or something.

As a budding medical professional, I've been asked on more than one occasion to state my opinion on tanning, so here it is – tanning can do wonders for your body, causing your skin to do many things it was never meant to do. It's kind of like landing on the moon – people thought we could never do it, but we managed to do it.

In fact, I bet Neil Armstrong is relaxing in a tanning booth right now – and that's not just because he owns stock in fast food heat lamps."


  • UWO Student Radio - listen in RealAudio - March 22, 2000 Indoor tanning salon owners are calling for regulation of the business as the industry becomes more competitive and, some say, increasingly unsafe.

    "The popularity has really grown but the tanning salon owners are very, very stupid. There's no legislation or regulation, so you get a bunch of idiots opening up," said John Malovich, owner of Southern Exposure in London.

    "They just want the money…and a lot of people that own it don't know jack…it's not a truthful industry."

  • Tan man's comments were off-colour - Norman Mah - Meds IV

  • Steve Besterd attacks Free Press - Co-owner of the tanning salon at UWO fights back. He claims that by being a member of some tanning association there is nothing wrong with his claims. That's about as believable as tobacco salesman for Players that used to say that Greg Moore never promoted tobacco.

  • Tanning reinforces stereotype - It's so nice to see our school is constantly striving to update and improve its facilities. The renovations to the UCC have brought about some notable additions (mmm... Harvey's). One addition in particular has caught our eye – besides Harvey's.

    The Cottage Tanning Company is a facility that we feel has the potential to attract negative attention. Isn't Western trying to erase the stereotype of "rich kids" and "snobbery" that has followed us for so long? It appears that Western has adopted a new guarantee – anyone who attends will be sure to maintain their tan year round! This is an institute of higher learning – have we all forgotten that?

USC VP Zolis fries his private parts without goggles

Why is USC Vice President Steve Zolis pimping for a new tanning parlor at the UCC? And what happened to the hair on his chest?

Questions for Student Council & UWO Dean
  • Are Western student council members dying to be dark?
  • Who arranged for the tanning salon on campus?
  • How much rent is the USC putting in it's pocket?
  • How long will Steve be irradiating students and faculty?
  • What are Steve's qualifications for operating a potentially dangerous sunbed parlor at a campus with a medical, dental, and nursing school?
  • Does he have a "hot line" to the emergency room in case of burns?
  • How many hours will his staff have to spend under the u.v. death rays in order to remain one of his employees?
  • What is the average IQ of his employees before, during, and after their undoubtedly extensive education?
  • How many free coupons will he be distributing to students, and how many column inches will the Gazette publish during the term of his contract?
  • Do they have to be smarter than his employees who worked for him at Dairy Queen?
  • Does he have insurance - just in case one of his clients suffers permanent injury while tanning?
  • Did Steve graduate from UWO, and did he take business ethics along the way?
  • Does Heather Buchan, an education major, study health issues, and if so, what will she tell her students about melanoma, basal cell, and squamous carcinoma?
  • Why would the British Minister of Health want to clamp down on sunbeds?
  • Did the head of the medical school section on dermatology know about the suntan parlor before the contract was signed?
  • How can they warn students and staff about sunbeds?

Campus Risks

There is an overwhelming disparity between what tanning parlors tell their clients and what the actual medical facts are regarding indoor tanning. University campuses are targeted by unscrupulous operators. Here's what some campus news reports have to say about it.

  • Michigan State - 1997
    Suntan parlors use A and B wavelengths of light, and the B wavelength usually burns skin more.
    "Tanning parlors promote that they are safe because they use the A style. The long-term effect is skin cancer, because the skin is damaged," she said. "We are seeing an increase of melanoma in 30-year-olds."
  • Michigan State - 1998
    Officials at Olin Memorial Health Center said no tanning is safe tanning. The center's Health Education Services Department and Resources Center publishes a leaflet that chronicles tanning safety.

    The leaflet reads: "Each time skin is forced to darken itself, which is the body's response when skin is exposed to ultraviolet radiation, the chance of developing skin cancer later in life is increased."

    Recent studies suggest that people may be more likely to get skin cancer if they tan in the sun and in the salon than if exposed to the sun only. Regina Jones, a pre-med freshman, said she goes to the tanning salon regularly, winter and summer alike.

  • University of Minnesota - Students often ignore the dangers of overexposure. Some open their eyes and risk cataracts.
  • University of Colorado - Avoid tanning salons. It used to be thought that tanning beds were safe because they primarily use UVA radiation, but UVA rays now have been implicated in skin cancer and also contribute to aging of the skin. People who think a "base tan" from a tanning bed will protect them against sunburn are mistaken, Marcus says. "A UVA tan does not protect you against a UVB burn."
  • Ohio University College of Osteopathy - There is no such thing as a "healthy" tan. All tanning contributes to skin damage, and the damage is cumulative over the years. In the best case, tanning just makes you appear "old and leathery" by the time you're in your 30s or 40s. In the worst case, it makes you die prematurely from skin cancer.
  • Virginia Tech - What is the difference between a suntan and a sunburn?
    - What are the long term effects of exposure to the sun?
    - What are some of the major risk factors for getting skin cancers?
    - Are artificial lights a good substitute for the sun?
  • Middlesex-London Health Board
    may control sunbed operators

    Middlesex County in London, Ontario may be the first government in Ontario to control sunbed operators. On Monday, June 15,1998 Dave Dauphinee, London Free Press reporter, covered a story that may lead to regulation of uncontrolled sunbed operators in London. 

    The Federal government has failed to control the industry after years of problems and complaints by doctors, and consumers. The operators of sunbed parlors, gyms, hair dressing shops, strip joints are totally out of control. 

    Patients who develop skin cancer because of their addiction to sunbeds, and the owners addiction to money will cost the Canadian health care system millions. 

    The Middlesex-London Health Unit has no mention of sunbeds on their web site even though they are working on a regulation to do that. In fact the have held several meetings abou tit. The Board can call for regulations on sunbeds without any Federal or Provincial legislation. Follow their links to see if there is any news. Meantime keep up the pressure on the council members.

    London-Middlesex Board of Health:
    Councillor Vance Blackmore (Chair)
    Middlesex County 
    Councillor Susan Eagle 
    City of London 
    Councillor Earl French 
    Middlesex County 
    Dr. Omar Ibdah
    Provincial Appointee 
    Ms. Delia Reiche 
    Provincial Appointee 
    Ms. Jennifer Jane Roy
    City Council Appointee 
    Councillor Megan Walker (Vice-Chair)
    City of London 
    Councillor Bill Waters
    Middlesex County

    Here is a letter I sent to the City Councillors, and the Board of Health during the week of June 15th.
    I suggest that you do the same.

    Subject: City Council should regulate dangerous sunbed operators

    Date: Thu, 18 June

    From: Terry Polevoy <E-mail

    Organization: Healthwatcher.net- ISCAN

    To: jmalpass@city.london.on.ca

    Here is the text of an e-mail I sent to City Council members today. Tonite, at 7:00 the Health Unit will present their paper on sunbed regulation. Please make sure that this letter is read at the meeting tonite. Perhaps someone might enter it, and read it aloud.

    To: London City Council meeting regarding Sunbed regulation

    From: Dr. Terry Polevoy, M.D., FRCP(C)

    I will probably not be able to attend tonight's meeting about sunbed regulations. However, because of my background and interest, and previous complaints to the Health Unit, I am happy to assist if you want my help. In order to do this, I invite you to my web page, but first read this note.

    Many years ago, I established the International Skin Cancer Awareness Network on the Internet. The sole reason for the site was to counteract the misinformation on sunbeds in our communitities in Canada, and around the world.

    My first hand encounter with malignant melanoma a few years ago helped to spark my interest in the iatrogenic causes for skin cancer. Living with someone who died of the disease makes one uniquely qualified to comment, and to educate the public.

    From my skin care clinic in London, I have filed numerous complaints to the London Health Unit concerning sunbed parlors. These have included patients who were treated by several sunbed parlors and who were injured because of their lack of judgement and because the operators basically didn't care. Those complaints are on file with the Environmental Health section at the Health Unit. I appreciate the work that the Unit has done, and they deserve assistance from you to control a dangerous non-medical practice in your community.

    The study that they are presenting to you tonight failed on one important account, they failed to survey the ages of those who are using the machines. The increasing use of sunbeds by minors and the promotion of tanning in the media and by local entrepreneurs is outrageous.

    Just to give you an example, there is one suntan parlor that is near the Wendy's and a major mall in North London. Two of my patients, (twin sisters) who were under 16 years at the time, went to the facility and admitted to attending the center more than 70 times in a three month period. They did not have their parent's permission. Their skin condition was caused by those visits.

    Another sunbed parlor near Oxford and Wharncliffe allowed a patient who had just delivered a baby, and who was on at least two medications that made her exposure to ultraviolet risky and dangerous failed to take a medical history. When I contacted the sunbed parlor they said that the patient gave them a history three years before. At the time, that patient was 15 years old. The woman could have died from the U.V. exposure.

    Sunbeds exist in places where your health unit has never checked. They are part and parcel of the strip-club industry. The owners, I call them pimps, of the strip clubs require their exotic dancers to tan in some of their facilities. The machines are never maintained or checked. They are dangerous.

    David Patchell Evans, a local hero to some Londoners, has undoubtedly presented an attack against any restrictions on sunbed machines. He has already responded in a three page letter to local media, and had been interviewed by the media in London. Mr. Patchell Evans claims to have all the answers, but he is a uniquely qualified business person, not a health professional.

    Mr. Patchell Evans, and his rapidly expanding Good Life empire sells sunbed time to unsuspecting young people. In Waterloo his huge sign at the corner of Philips and Columbia features Super Tan promotions, as well as Chiropractic care. This guru of fitness funds university programs, provides services for hospitals, and yet he has the gall to promote sunbeds at his Good Life Clubs. He is in it for the money, not for the protection of his clients. That is a given. Just ask him why he sells time on his sunbeds. Ask him how his hundreds of employees are trained. Ask him how his hundreds of employees are paid for selling that extra membership that includes time in sunbeds. Then ask him how much money and time he has spent to educate his clients on the pitfalls of ultraviolet exposure. Ask him if a discussion about the harm done by sunbeds are included in his courses that he operates at local hospitals.

    My web site is called ISCAN, which means International Skin Cancer Awareness Network. It is obvious that Mr. Patchell Evans is more concerned with expanding his empire and ripping off the public in our communities, than he is in promoting any useful preventive healthcare at any of his Good Life Fitness centres.

    Sun beds kill, he knows it, but it will cut into his bottom line if he has to spend even one moment on customer education, or to possibly have anything in his fitness centers come under anyone's regulation. He will never feel liable in his own mind because everyone else in the fitness business, except the YMCA is in the business to promote unsafe practices, like suntanning.

    The Federal government has failed miserably in their regulation of sunbeds. The only municipality that has any regulations in place in Canada is in Vancouver.

    Sunbeds continue to injure my patients now, and they will create future deaths among young adults and youngsters who continue to believe that they must tan to be successful, or beautiful. Mr. Patchell Evans and the other promoters of tanning will be dead and gone, but the problems they helped to create from their legal businesses will just be starting. The pain and suffering of future melanoma victims will effect thousands of Canadians each year.

    Don't expect the Federal government to do anything for you. Take action now. Get rid of employers who require their men and women to tan to put on a show. Get rid of the untrained operators, get rid of those machines that are used to kill people for profit.

    You are all invited to visit my web site before tonight's meeting, and to use it as a resource. I hope you digest what I have to say, and to consider my unique position, and my first hand knowledge in the community. I update the site as needed. There may be some dead links, but that is because some of the operators who used to advertise on the net have taken them down.

    Please take my warnings seriously.

    Some day, one of your friends or relatives will be affected by skin cancer, and it may have been caused by sunbed exposure in your own community.

    Terry Polevoy, MD


    P.S. For the last three years, I have operated an Acne Clinic at the corner of Wonderland and Sarnia Road London. There are over 30 stand-alone tanning locations that the Health Unit knows about in London. That does not include any beds operated in homes, strip joints, gyms, and other places. 

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