We Are Sunshine

HEADLINE STORY: Study misses the point in its allegation about teenagers and recommended exposure schedules

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

SEPT. 22, 2009 — Dermatology’s latest attempt to suggest that teenagers should be prohibited from using indoor tanning equipment is once again based on mis-information and a study that does not accurately reflect the intent of recommended exposure schedules on indoor tanning equipment.

2009-09-23-teen-tanning-debate-copy.jpgA study published in the Archives of Dermatology this week alleged that 89 percent of indoor tanning facilities allowed teenagers to tan beyond recommendations on the exposure schedule.

“The recommended exposure schedule is designed to make recommendations for operators on incremental exposure times that lead up to an absolute maximum time and it’s all designed to minimize an indoor tanner’s risk of sunburn, regardless of their age,” Smart Tan Vice President Joseph Levy said. “The fact of the matter is that indoor tanners still sunburn less often outdoors as compared to non-tanners and this same study could have been written up as saying virtually ‘100 percent of salons’ follow the spirit and intent of the guidelines and that all salons abide by the FDA’s maximum exposure limits.”

The study’s authors, to the contrary, did not appear to understand that the incremental times are designed to be recommendations and not absolutes. “The authors are calling for restrictions on teenage tanning — which taints their scientific objectivity. It seems obvious from their cavalier treatment of this topic that they are lobbyists moreso than scientists,” Levy said.

WebMD ran a story abut the study alleging “Researchers say the popularity of indoor tanning with adolescent girls in recent years may also be behind a recent increase in melanoma rates among U.S. women aged 15-39” — a claim that does not hold up to mathematical scrutiny if one looks at actual melanoma data.

Smart Tan is calling for a full-fledged investigation into mis-statements made by representatives of dermatology industry lobbying groups regarding melanoma incidence. “The dermatology community in North American has completely misrepresented the nature of melanoma incidence and mortality data for young women,” Smart Tan Vice President Joseph Levy said. “Smart Tan gave a presentation to the American Society for Photobiology in 2004 based on a review of the data we commissioned. We will be updating that review now. The government’s most recent data only underscores what we knew five years ago.”

The entire issue will be incorporated into Smart Tan’s Foundation Program — the opening general session at Smart Tan Downtown Oct. 10, where Smart Tan is outlining a major pro-active campaign to promote UV in the proper context.