We Are Sunshine

Big Dermatology Repeats UV-Vitamin D Error in North American Press Release

Monday, March 31st, 2008

The American Academy of Dermatology this week repeated its incorrect assertion that people do not need sun exposure to make vitamin D.

2008-03-28-derms-get-a-d-in-math-tanningnews-copy.jpg “Vitamin D is essential for optimal health, and appropriate amounts of vitamin D can be obtained through a healthy diet which includes naturally enriched vitamin D foods, fortified foods and beverages and/or vitamin supplements,” AAD President Dr. William Hanke said in an AAD press release issued Wednesday. “Intentional exposure to UV radiation from the sun (natural) or tanning devices (artificial) is not a safe or effective way to obtain vitamin D.”

The trouble is: There’s no data at all to back up Hanke’s statement.

People make 90 percent of their vitamin D naturally when UVB light from the sun or from an indoor tanning unit reaches the skin,” Smart Tan Vice President Joseph Levy said. “Because vitamin D sufficiency is now linked to lower rates of many forms of cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis and many other disorders, the entire vitamin D community now believes we need far more vitamin D than previously thought.”

Levy continued, “There is absolutely no data anywhere in the world to suggest that vitamin D sufficiency as we now know it can be achieved naturally without getting regular UV exposure. The dermatology industry’s leaders are caught in the dark ages on this.”

AAD’s Hanke also misstated that, “There is substantial evidence that excessive exposure to any form of UV radiation increases the risk of developing melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. Individuals who intentionally expose themselves to UV radiation for vitamin D are putting themselves at risk for developing skin cancer.”

Again, AAD – in promoting an all-out sun avoidance message – has misrepresented the fact that no data suggest that tanning in a non-burning fashion is a significant risk factor. “The default explanation should be that people need to avoid sunburn, but not avoid natural, non-burning UV exposure,” Levy explained. “AAD and many other parties continue to misrepresent this very important distinction. The studies they point to, by design, are incapable of distinguishing patterns of non-burning exposure from individuals who sunburned. The fact that they have conspicuously ignored such a major confounding variable in how they discuss this issue is troubling at best and fraudulent at worst.”

Smart Tan’s positions on UV and Vitamin D are available on our consumer information web site,