We Are Sunshine

Tanning salons outraged by dermatology clinic’s defamatory billboard campaign

Monday, June 29th, 2009

JUNE 26, 2009 — A libelous billboard on a Peoria, Illinois freeway slams indoor tanning and has drawn the ire of tanning businesses in the area, who have already responded to the advertising firm that owns the billboard.

2009-06-26-libelous-billboard-tanningnews-copy.jpgThe billboard — placed by an Illinois dermatology clinic — screams “Dying to Look Beautiful” and features a picture of a skeleton in a tanning bed. The rest of the text on the billboard inaccurately states, “Women who frequent tanning parlors have a greater incidence of melanoma.”

Although most researchers believe UV and melanoma are related, no research has identified the causative mechanism behind the relationship — a major shortfall since melanoma is more common in indoor workers than in outdoor workers and occurs most frequently on parts of the body that don’t get regular sun exposure. Additionally, 18 of 22 studies ever conducted on indoor tanning and melanoma showed no statistically significant connection, including the largest and most recent study.

Additionally, some independent dermatopathology researchers believe that UV and melanoma are not related at all. Dr. Bernard Ackerman, recognized by the American Academy of Dermatology as a master dermatologist who is considered a pioneer in dermatology pathology — has written two books pointing out that no actual research connects UV and melanoma quantitatively.

Ironically the cosmetic dermatologist who placed the billboard — the Soderstrom Skin Institute — actually uses indoor tanning equipment to treat psoriasis, a cosmetic skin disorder that is never lethal. “If the content on Soderstrom’s billboard were true, then Soderstrom would be guilty of that which they accuse indoor tanning facilities: of increasing women’s risk of melanoma in exchange for treating a non-lethal disease, which would violate the ‘never do harm’ provision of a physician’s Hippocratic Oath,” a group of Smart Tan Network members wrote in a letter to Adams Outdoor Advertising, which owns the billboard space.

The Smart Tan members have asked Adams Outdoor Advertising for the billboard to be removed on the grounds that it is inaccurate and libelous to their businesses.