I’m writing an article in follow-up to the research that you co-authored on the healthcare costs of indoor tanning (goo.gl/Cdgmpx).
I read in your bio that you have extensive background in the financial impact of healthcare, and I have just a few questions that I hope that you can clarify.
Every day, millions of people are exposed to natural sunlight to a point of overexposure and sunburn. Children at our pools, playgrounds, lakes, beaches, parks and more can receive tremendous amounts of intentional and unintentional UV exposure. Your estimate of $343 million in annual costs to treat tanning bed-related cancers is a very large figure. A majority of the population receives UV (intentional or unintentional) from natural sunlight over their lifetime; what method did you use to distinguish between those who developed skin cancer after having received UV only from indoor tanning vs. lifetime sun exposure or a mix of both?
I read in the report the following quote: “Even with all the data linking indoor tanning to skin cancer, an estimated 30 million people report using indoor tanning devices at least once a year – an increase over the last 20 years.” The fact is, the indoor tanning industry has been on a decline over the last decade, in part from a nationwide economic decline and to some degree, the impact of the 10% federal tax on indoor tanning services. How current was the data used to obtain the “30 million people” figure?
According to the NCI SEER report, the overwhelming majority of melanoma incidence and mortality occurs in the aging population. In fact, over 70% are above age 55 and predominantly male (goo.gl/sXzaY7). Although estimates are reported, Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma are not included in SEER skin cancer statistics. In addition, the latency period for melanoma can be as long as ten, 20 or more years. With that taken into consideration, I’m interested in the demographics of those in your study who suffered melanoma incidence and/or fatality.
There are, of course, significant risk factors for skin cancer: light-colored eyes and/or hair, number of moles on the skin, family heredity and repetitive sunburns among them. In terms of demographic information, were those in your study divided into age groups and skin types, as well as male/female groupings? If so, what were those groupings?
Dr. Waters, thank you in advance of your reply.
Senior Writer, IST Magazine
Almost since the inception of our industry, tanning professionals have been beleaguered by negative press, and unfortunately, many are often ill-equipped when attempting to counter these reports. This is due, in part, to the fact that salon operators are just not sure what they can or cannot say, with regard to marketing and promoting their services. Combine this with the common complaint about the difficult task of keeping staff intact, and you have a problem communicating your position to not only your current salon guests, but also to prospective customers and the public, as well.
My apologies if I’m “preaching to the choir” and you’ve already taken Sun is Life® Training and Certification. The SIL program, approved in all states that require salon operator training, provides everything you need to increase the professionalism of your business. Perhaps best of all, it’s available whenever YOU are – 24/7, around the clock, coast-to-coast. Our online course arms you and your team with practical info that is in line with the current FDA and FTC guidelines on sunbeds and sunlamps.
Once you’ve gotten the facts, you’re on your way to being able to counter the plethora of inaccuracies about our industry, whether you’re educating a salon guest or conversing casually with friends. IST also applies this info and additional research to respond to many of these inaccurate “news” items.
Recently, reports appeared stating that indoor tanning logs $343 million in healthcare costs each year.
One such story was published by UPI.com featuring comments from a Dr. Hugh Waters that were particularly glaring in their fallacy and relied on some very old data. Below is the IST Magazine reply sent to UPI.com. As is typical when we “call them out,” a reply was not received by our offices at press time, and that is true in this case. Nonetheless, feel free to share the reply on the opposite page with current salon guests, as well as prospective customers.
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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