Archive for March 2008

Doctors Dispute New Claims From Indoor Tanning Industry

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – The indoor tanning industry has launched a campaign blitz saying there is “no compelling scientific evidence that tanning causes melanoma.” It’s an ad campaign that has some health experts seeing spots over concerns about the dangers of sun exposure, including a doctor from the Huntsman Cancer Institute here in Salt Lake City.

On television and in print, the Indoor Tanning Association is trying to turn up the heat, challenging the medical establishment’s view of tanning.

“The dermatologists, the sunscreen and cosmetic industries have tried to say that somehow moderate tanning causes melanoma, which is just not true,” said the Association’s spokesperson, Sarah Longwell.

We showed the full-page ad claiming the tanning-melanoma link is just hype to skin cancer survivor Emily Konesky. “I don’t think they’re being honest at all,” Konesky said.

Two years ago, Emily fought off advanced stage melanoma – cancer she says her doctors attributed to her tanning salon habit. “Four times a week on average,” Konesky said. “It is not natural for a 19-year-old to be diagnosed with cancer that takes 30 to 40 years to develop.”

The Indoor Tanning Association cites at least one medical authority who questions whether exposure to ultraviolet rays from tanning can really cause melanoma. And the industry ads go on to say tanning is actually helpful because our bodies get vitamin D from sunlight. “It’s healthy to have moderate exposure to UV light,” Longwell said. “It produces vitamin D.”

But experts say you can get all the vitamin D you need from your food and just a few minutes of sun a week, and that the ad is misleading.

“The ad misrepresents scientific fact,” said Dr. David Leffell of Yale Medical School. “Ultraviolet radiation from the sun and from the artificial bulbs that are used in the tanning parlors can lead to skin cancer.”

Dr. Dirk Noyes of the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City agrees. “We know tanning or ultraviolet rays exposure is the most common cause why people get melanoma,” Noyes said.

But the tanning industry is still fighting back. “The benefits of moderate exposure to UV light far outweigh any potential risks,” Longwell said.

Doctors say there’s no question, the sun ‘can’ do damage. For Emily Konesky, the damage was almost fatal. “I wake up every single morning and think this could be the day that the cancer could come back,” Konesky said.

It’s still ultimately up to parents in Utah. The state passed legislation last year stating teens under the age of eighteen need parental consent to use a tanning bed.

Read the article HERE.