We Are Sunshine

‘Sun Scare’ Docs Keep On Lying

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Facing an avalanche of pro-sun and vitamin D reports challenging their unnatural sun-scare dogma, ‘Sun Scare’ doctors in this year’s crop of anti-tanning stories and lobbying efforts have stooped well beyond spin and are simply misstating facts to make reports seem even more sensational.

NBC’s Today Show Wednesday morning, in a report about compliance with New Jersey’s parental consent UV tanning standard, included New Jersey cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Jeanine Downie saying, “If you start tanning as a teenager you are 74 times more likely to get a malignant melanoma as a younger adult than you would otherwise.”

No such statistic exists. Downie — whose web site reports that she is a “fellow of the Skin Cancer Foundation” — is in a position where she should know better. It was the only statement Downie made in the Today report.

Her misstatement comes just over two weeks after NBC Medical Editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman — also on Today — argued with Smart Tan Executive Director Joseph Levy, who pointed out that melanoma is more common in indoor workers than it is in outdoor workers, who get up to 10 times more UV exposure. “Did you know outdoor workers have fewer melanomas than indoor workers?” Levy said in that report on May 4. Snyderman interrupted, “Which is absolutely not true.”

Smart Tan sent Snyderman dozens of references, including the World Health Organization’s documentation, showing that melanoma is more common in indoor workers who get less UV exposure. Smart Tan also supplied Today with material showing that dermatology statements about melanoma and indoor tanning are not accurate — that dermatologists’ own usage of sunbeds is driving the risk in the studies.

“On consecutive reports, the Today Show featured doctors making misstatements about indoor tanning — and the misstatements are always in the direction of denigration,” Levy said. “There is so much information hitting consumers from outside of dermatology now supporting a balanced message about UV, the old guard on this issue is just getting reckless in their misstatements. That’s not sustainable. There’s a growing record of this now.”

Lobbying for the state of California to restrict teenage access to sunbed salons in 2011, the immediate past president of the California Dermatology Society stated that sunbeds are an inefficient source of vitamin D and that dermatology phototherapy has not been linked to skin cancer. The U.S. Government lists PUVA phototherapy as a Class 1 Carcinogen, with reports showing that dermatology phototherapy increases skin cancer risk 50-fold — 66 times greater a risk-factor than dermatology alleges indoor tanning is.

Lobbying for the state of New Jersey to restrict teenage access to sunbeds, dermatologists argued that vitamin D is not important for teenagers and that data suggesting that sunlight and vitamin D significantly reduce the risk of strokes isn’t applicable to teens because they never get strokes. In fact, strokes are five times more common in teenagers than melanoma.

“When the facts aren’t on your side, you stretch, and that’s the position dermatology and chemical sunscreen have put themselves in right now,” Levy said. “They’re pushing back so hard because, at the core, they aren’t right.”

Smart Tan will continue to work with professional salons to promote the right message the right way — a balanced message that respects the intelligence of consumers and emphasizes sunburn prevention.