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I wish I had a buck for every time this question has been directed at our industry. I’d throw that cash at some Bitcoin investor and be a very wealthy man! Hey, I listened to a recent Elon Musk podcast …
So, why does this query elicit so much ire from indoor tanning aficionados? Well, seldom do the authors of articles addressing this topic offer the complete picture. First and foremost, our industry is governed by the Food and Drug Administration’s 21CFR1040.20. This federal regulation categorizes indoor tanning for “cosmetic purposes” only. As such, health claims regarding the relative safety of these products should not be made, and health claims regarding indoor tanning are monitored by the Federal Trade Commission. Basically, we can’t even mention the word “safe!” Let’s move on.
This month’s Watchdog article comes from Pop Sugar Beauty in the UK.
Among the first topics they tackle: “What Makes Sunbeds So Dangerous?” Well, they revert to an oft-quoted (and often debunked) statement, …“there’s a 20% higher risk of melanoma in someone who has used a sunbed just once.” So, let’s think about that.
There is no generic sunbed. The intensity of a tanning system is driven by the strength of the lamp, the ballast output, incoming voltage, acrylic shield thickness. The cosmetic tanning result obtained by the user is affected by the length of that session. So, according to their quote, just one session of, let’s say 60 seconds on a low-UV output sunbed is going to increase my risk of developing melanoma by 20%? Are you sure? How much is my risk increased by overexposure and sunburn from a sunny day spent at the beach without applying the proper SPF?
Now, their next nugget of wisdom. “Skin cancer is common. According to the British Skin Foundation and WHO, over 100,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year with almost 18,000 new cases of melanoma recorded in 2018 – the most serious and potentially lethal form of skin cancer,” explained consultant dermatologist, Dr. Sharon Wong.
Okay, math majors – grab your calculators. The population of the UK is over 66,000,000 (I just checked). Divide 18,000 by 66,000,000 to get the number of Brits who will get melanoma. That number is 0.00027. That’s not even a whole person! Yet, according to the British Skin Cancer Foundation, melanoma is “common.”
Next quote to dissect: …“Over 2,500 people die from skin cancer a year, equating to seven people every day.” Well, that would mean that 0.000037% of the UK population will die from skin cancer. Look, skin cancer largely affects older males, mostly due to heredity and overexposure to the natural sun. So, how many of those folks are older males vs the typical indoor tanner who is a female age 18-35? They do not offer any demographic info; but I would fathom the number is – not many.
Look, one fatality from melanoma is one too many. But my gosh – let’s put this into some perspective! I think I just did. There are several more questionable “nuggets” from this article that are just too good to pass up, but I won’t go there. Check back with the ol’ Watchdog next month.
A 26-year industry veteran, Joe has taught certified salon operator training for the last 15 years, as well as advocating indoor tanning in many capacities. Joe is a sought-after speaker and presenter at both national & regional trade events, also interacting with the FDA, state & local regulatory agencies. During his most recent tenure with the ITA, he served as director of membership.
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