We Are Sunshine

Smart Tan Responds to Bogus BBC Report

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

The British Broadcasting Company on Monday broadcast a completely unsupportable attack on indoor tanning facilities, once again showing how anti-sun forces are willing to distort research and say anything to support their over-the-top cause.


In a story about teenage tanning in Scotland the BBC reported the following: “Doctors say more than 100 people die from sunbed use in the UK every year, mostly because of skin cancer” – a ridiculous assertion that has no research to support it.

“That would be like saying that watching the BBC kills 100 people a year, because watching television isn’t a healthy activity and therefore the BBC should be banned,” Smart Tan Vice President Joseph Levy said in a letter to BBC editors. “The doctors who made that statement to the BBC are conspicuously confusing correlations with causations and they are ignoring confounding variables and data that make their statement ridiculous at best and potentially fraudulent at worst. They are not being forthright with the media about the limitations of the data they are using and, in this case, it’s doubtful that data could create that number with any statistical power behind it.”

Smart Tan has been vigilant in pointing out this year that skin cancer study designs are incapable of distinguishing regular, non-burning UV exposure from people who intermittently sunburn — a very important distinction because cumulative UV exposure has not been linked substantially to melanoma development. Melanoma is more common in indoor workers than outdoor workers and appears most frequently on parts of the body that do not receive regular sun exposure.

Further, an objective look at worldwide data does not suggest an increase in actual melanomas in young women. “The increases are so obviously in older men that it is especially noteworthy that almost none of dermatology’s public health campaigns are aimed at older men. The media needs to wake up to this.”

In Smart Tan’s response to BBC, Smart Tan pointed out that professional tanning facilities are part of the solution in a proper sun care campaign:

“Saying UV light is harmful and should be avoided is like saying that water causes drowning so we should avoid water. It is an inaccurate oversimplification. We need UV from the sun to live. Vitamin D research has shown that. What we should be teaching is sunburn prevention – not sun avoidance. Consider: No study isolates indoor tanning in a non-burning fashion as a health risk. Burning – not tanning – is the problem. And tanners sunburn less than non-tanners. For more visit”

Click here to read the BBC’s full report.