Salon Group Targets Tanning 'Myths'


Group Disputes Tanning Dangers

In the absence of FDA action, the AAD has recommended:

A ban on use of indoor tanning by anyone younger than 18

A Surgeon General's warning label for all tanning equipment

Required signage warning of the known hazards of UV exposure

A warning statement every patron of a tanning facility must sign

Additional inspections and training for tanning salons and employees

A ban on advertising and promotion of health benefits of tanning

The ASA suggests that many physicians -- especially dermatologists -- refer patients to suntanning salons for therapeutic reasons. The ASA statement cites a 2010 survey by the International Smart Tan Network, a trade organization, showing that 11 percent of tanning-salon patients are referred by physicians and that 28 percent of referring physicians are dermatologists.

The statement characterized as "baseless" a claim by the AAD that 100 percent of dermatologists discourage tanning.

The ASA also wants more discussion of a 2009 report from the International Association for Research in Cancer (IARC), a branch of the WHO, which reclassified artificial UV light from "possibly carcinogenic" to "carcinogenic to humans." The IARC decision was based in part on a 2006 meta-analysis that showed a 75 percent increased risk of melanoma among people who reported using tanning devices before age 30.

"The IARC data that resulted in a mispromoted number, in our view, included both phototherapy units and home units," ASA board member Doug McNabb told MedPage Today. "When you separate the data into three categories -- commercial sunbeds, home units, and phototherapy units -- commercial sunbeds have the lowest risk and would be statistically insignificant. In contrast, the risk of melanoma is increased by 96 percent with phototherapy units."

"We want to shed some light on that data and make sure people are making decisions on the basis of scientific facts and not on the basis of a newspaper headline or a TV news show," added McNabb, a suntanning salon owner in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

McNabb reiterated the ASA's intended emphasis on better education and training of suntanning salon employees, as well as people who use commercial sunbeds.

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