To the Editor:
The Rhode Island Senate passed a law prohibiting people under 18 from using tanning beds at tanning salons. The legislation (2012-S2322) was sponsored by Rhoda E. Perry, who says, “It makes no sense to allow children to roast their skin with cancer-causing UV rays in tanning beds.”
Using inflammatory language to attack an industry whose equipment is approved by the FDA, and installed in businesses that are regulated by the Rhode Island Department of Health does little to improve the business climate in our state. We are running a business, paying taxes and providing a service to the public that enjoys, and in many cases, needs what we offer. We are not now, ever were, nor ever will roast children’s skin with deadly UV rays.
Representative Eileen Naughton proposed similar legislation in the House (2012-H7825). In a press release promoting her March 22 appearance with the Surgeon General at a conference in Boston, Naughton says, “I don’t think there’s a person in this state who isn’t in favor of reducing preventable illness and disability.”
We couldn’t agree more. Our advice: Get some sun!
Before opening Sunkisst Tans in 2010, we did some research and concluded that benefits of UV exposure far outweigh the risk. Our need for light and warmth is part of our DNA. Too much warmth burns; too much anything damages. Proper amounts of what nature provides is simply living as nature intended. Blocking essential ingredients runs contrary to common sense, and complicates a simple life.
Reports from the World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer need to be taken seriously. And we did. Their findings are often quoted and used exclusively by opponents of tanning. The WHO is the umbrella organization for the IARC, whose opening statement in their report concerning tanning beds exposes their bias.
“Exposure to solar UV radiation is a known cause of cancer.”
Exposure to UV radiation is a known cause of a lot of things. It causes plants to grow, makes the earth habitable and causes our skin to do what it is designed to do: tan!
UV radiation is sunshine.
Had they started with, “UV radiation stimulates Vitamin D production, and Vitamin D deficiency is epidemic in North America due to the overuse of sun blocks and avoidance of the sun,” a different message would be heard.
Proper Vitamin D levels decrease cancer risk by 50 to 60 percent. Exposure to UV light is the best way to get the recommended level of Vitamin D. Studies show that for every person who dies from skin cancer from UV overexposure, over 200 will die from other causes as a result of low Vitamin D levels.
A tan is the body’s natural defense against sunburn, the cause of many skin cancers. Tanning is falsely referred to as damaging our skin. Weight training is damaging our muscles. It is our body’s ability to heal and become stronger, and resistant to damage that prompts us to tan, or exercise.
Some medical doctors are not sold on the sun scare message. Dr. William Grant writes that increased sun exposure in the United States would result in 185,000 fewer cases of internal cancer and 30,000 fewer deaths from cancer of the breast, ovaries, colon, prostrate, bladder, uterus, esophagus, rectum and stomach. In comparison, there are 7,500 deaths per year attributed to skin cancer.
The European Journal of Cancer confirms cancer studies showing improved survival rates in melanoma patients who were exposed to UV light more frequently in the time before their melanoma was diagnosed. This contradicts findings from the IARC, whose analysis of “about 20 studies” concludes the risk of melanoma jumps by 75 percent when people use tanning beds before age 30. Those numbers are contrary to the National Cancer Institute’s claim that melanoma in women ages 20 to 49 has actually decreased every year since 1975.
Why is only half the message being delivered?
One possible reason is profit. “The sun scare message, fueled by dermatologists, has helped sunscreen manufacturers turn a multi-million dollar industry into a six billion dollar juggernaut that uses dermatology endorsements to drive overuse of their product, which in some cases has been implicated in containing undisclosed toxins.” (Harmon Leon, independent journalist.)
We at Sunkisst tans only know what we always knew. Tanning makes us look and feel better. Our research makes us confident that what we provide to the consumer is good, safe and in their best interest.
Cheryl and Michael Morse are the owners of Sunkisst Tans, in Warwick.