Did you know there’s a “deceptive campaign to keep you out of the sun?”

The Indoor Tanning Association recently placed an ad in the New York Times. With the headline “Tanning Causes Melanoma HYPE” it has caused some controversy and pushed some traffic to SunlightScam.com, the organization’s campaign website.

Their key points:

  • Society needs more Vitamin D, and 20 minutes in the sun will give you more than you can get with through milk or any food product
  • Exposure to the sun (or tanning beds) does not cause cancer
  • All these myths are nothing more than hype generated by dermatologists (especially the members of the American Academy of Dermatology “AAD”) that are in the back pocket of the sunscreen companies.

    Here’s their ad:

    As you would expect, The AAD couldn’t disagree more.

    According to an their factsheet, a few of the risks of tanning include:

  • The United States Department of Health & Human Services has declared ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds and sun lamps, as a known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance).
  • Indoor tanning equipment, which includes all artificial light sources, including beds, lamps, bulbs, booths, etc., emits UVA and UVB radiation. The amount of the radiation produced during indoor tanning is similar to the sun and in some cases may be stronger.
  • A Swedish study presents strong evidence that exposure to UV radiation during indoor tanning increases the risk of melanoma, especially when exposed at an early age.
  • Evidence from several studies has shown that exposure to UV radiation from indoor tanning devices is associated with an increased risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer such as squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma.
  • A review of seven studies found a statistically significant increase in the risk of melanoma in those who had been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning before the age of 35.
  • Studies have demonstrated that exposure to UV radiation during indoor tanning damages the DNA in the skin cells. Also excessive exposure to UV radiation during indoor tanning can lead to skin aging, immune suppression, and eye damage, including cataracts and ocular melanoma.
  • Because UV radiation from indoor tanning can lead to skin cancer, eye damage, aging skin and immune suppression, it is not safe to use tanning lamps to obtain vitamin D.
  • The AAD has a campaign of their own:

    I know. OMG, the whole IM motif is pretty lame. But considering 2.3 million teen girls frequent tanning salons annually, I understand the approach.

    If the Indoor Tanning Association is right, it’s one of the great healthscare scams in recent memory. If they are wrong, could they be any less responsible?

    So, who do you believe? The Indoor Tanning Association or the American Academy of Dermatology?

    [poll=5]

    Feel free to weigh in below.

    . . .

    Inspiration for this post came from Conrad Saam at Avvo. Thanks, Conrad!