We Are Sunshine

Derm Lies About Skin Cancer Numbers

Friday, June 4th, 2010

2010-06-04 Derl lies about numbers copyAn Anchorage dermatologist, arguing that the 10 percent U.S. luxury tax on indoor tanning set to go into effect July 1 will “save lives,” misrepresented facts about vitamin D and skin cancer to make his point on an Anchorage television interview.

Alaska TV station KTUU reported that Dr. Thomas Senter said melanoma is the leading cause of death for women aged 25-29 in the United States — which is completely untrue. Breast caner, cervical cancer, leukemia, colorectal and brain cancer lead the list in that age group, according to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics. Melanoma isn’t even on the list, with a mortality rate well below 1 in 100,000 in women under 50.

Breast cancer mortality figures in that age group are nearly 10 times higher. What’s more, melanoma mortality in women under 50 has declined since 2000, according to the U.S Center for Health Statistics.

“Dermatology leaders have misled people on this one,” Smart Tan Vice President Joseph Levy said. “Melanoma is decreasing in women under age 50, but is increasing fastest in men over age 50 — the group LEAST likely to suntan. That becomes even more important when put in the proper context: That melanoma’s potential relationship with UV is complex at best. It’s most common on parts of the body that don’t get regular UV exposure and is more common in indoor workers who get less UV exposure.”

Senter also told KTUU that there are better ways than UV exposure to get vitamin D — misrepresenting the fact that sun exposure to the skin is the body’s natural and intended source of vitamin D and several studies have shown that indoor tanners have 90 percent higher vitamin D blood levels as compared to non-tanners.

Vitamin D experts universally agree that society’s indoor-living habits are to blame for skyrocketing vitamin D deficiency today.

“Yes, you can get vitamin D from a tanning bed. And yes, you can treat your depression with a whiskey bottle. But are the side effects worth it?” Senter asked in the KTUU interview. “I think tanning salons are taking a little bit of truth and stretching it out.”

As it turns out, Senter is the one stretching the truth.

And it should come as no surprise that Senter supports the new 10 percent luxury tax on indoor tanning services, put into 2010 Health Care Reform legislation when medical lobbyists pushed to remove a would-be 5 percent “Bo-Tax” on elective cosmetic procedures, most notably Botox injections.

Senter’s cosmetic dermatology practice sells Botox injections, according to his own web site.

Smart Tan reported Senter’s errors to KTUU.

To see the KTUU story click here.