Indoor Tanning: The Skin Cancer Risk You Don't Know About
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Tanning Industry Lies
With or without new regulations, the public is misinformed. When Consumer Reports contacted 296 tanning facilities in 12 cities for a 2005 report, nearly 35 percent denied that indoor tanning can cause skin cancer and/or claimed it doesn't prematurely age the skin. And when FITNESS reviewed 12 tanning salons' Web sites, each stated that indoor tanning was in some way healthy. For example, Great Tans, a chain in San Marcos, Texas, claimed "calling a tan damage to your skin is like calling exercise damage to your muscles." And while Arizona franchise Energy Tanning did state that tanning can cause some kinds of skin cancer, it also affirmed: "Moderate tanning can help keep you healthy and fit. Sunlight or tanning salons can improve muscle tone and cardiovascular fitness while helping prevent cancer and osteoporosis." When we contacted the salons for comment, representatives said they'd get back to us. By press time, they had not.
"Two of the most popular myths propagated by the tanning industry," says Dr. Read, "are that tanning is the best way to get enough vitamin D and that tanning beds emit only safe ultraviolet light." According to Stephen Smith, CEO of Planet Beach, "numerous studies have shown that responsible and moderate exposure to UV light is important to well-being, natural vitamin D production, and disease prevention. We [are helping] customers maintain healthy skin for life."
Dr. Kauvar could not disagree more. "You can get plenty of vitamin D by eating enriched foods or being outside for 5 to 10 minutes a day. And there's no such thing as safe UV rays." So what's with the pro-tanning studies these companies cite? "The tanning industry often funds studies that find tanning is healthy," says Dr. Read. "It's a clear conflict of interest."
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