Tanning Salon Industry Full of Lies and MisinformationFebruary 3rd, 2012 | Posted by in Prevention | Skin Cancer | Sunscreen | Tanning | Teen
With the report this week by ABC’s Diane Sawyer that “there are more tanning salons in America than there are Starbucks” you’d expect that the Government, namely Congress, would want to poke around the burgeoning industry and check for safety. And two years ago, after a full scale investigation into the thriving tanning salon business, the FDA recommended that tanning was unsafe for minors. If you wonder why you’ve not heard much about it or why legislation has not moved forward is that the tanning industry lobbyists spent nearly $500,000 to fight the message’s widespread dissemination. The FDA who stands by the claims in their report that “there is no safe indoor tan” have yet to take action.
The recently released study by House Democratic staffers revealed that tanning salon employees frequently gave customers false information. They told staffers that there were not risks inherent to indoor tanning and some even stated there were health benefits to the practice. Staffers posed as 16-year-old fair-skinned females and visited 300 indoor tanning salons across the Nation, including three salons in each of the 50 states. They quizzed employees on the following:
(1) whether the salon offered discounts to students or teens; (2) how frequently a new customer would be permitted to use the salon’s tanning beds; (3) whether indoor tanning posed any risks for people with fair skin; (4) whether indoor tanning increased one’s risk of acquiring skin cancer; and (5) whether indoor tanning provided any health benefits.
Consistently employees provided false or inaccurate information to the hired staffers. In fact, 90% of the employees asserted that there were no health risks associated with indoor tanning.
Some other intriguing highlights came from the report and the research surrounding it. The report states that the American Academy of Pediatrics calls indoor tanning beds ‘generally unsafe for children’ and recommends they be banned for kids under 18.” The report continues, ”indoor tanning is a potent source of ultraviolet radiation, especially UVA,” and that “the UVA radiation emitted by these devices can be as much as 10 to 15 times more powerful than midday sunlight.”
Also, CBS News mentions online that the “risk of melanoma goes up 75 percent when tanning bed use begins before the age of 30.” Today, “melanoma is the most common form of cancer among white women between 15 and 29. And the rate of melanoma in that age group has risen 50 percent since the 1980s, as tanning salons have proliferated.”
Taking these facts into consideration, House Democrat Henry Waxman from California, suggests that the FDA issue guidance that the use of tanning beds is unsafe for minors.
ABC News contributes to the growing negative sentiment toward indoor tanning salons with their printing of a quote by Suzanne Connolly, MD, FAAD, vice president of the American Academy of Dermatology: ” “The potential effect of this report is huge.” Dr. Connolly added, “We must grab the attention of our population and educate them. It’s a big opportunity for improving health by reducing risk through education.” Dr. Connolly went on to say that “the AAD applauds the committee for taking the initiative to undertake the investigation.”