Just recently, I have taken to asking myself if I have inadvertently and somewhat bizarrely, developed the ability to anticipate the plans of long-term anti-tanning protagonists, Cancer Research UK (CRUK). Yes, this is indeed a strange claim.
Not by any stretch of the imagination could this be defined as a “super-power”, nor is my suspected newfound ability the result of a having a mole lurking on CRUK’s team. No my friends, after giving this “ability” considerable thought, I have narrowed the explanation down to one single reason and this is it: I have spent so many years challenging the anti-tanning brigade that, if I choose to, I can now actually think like them.
Of course, not for one minute does this mean that I have fallen for their tune. Never in a million years. Yet, if I accept that this ability is now mine, the question is how best to utilise it in order to scupper the plans of our foes.
Does this all sound a little far-fetched? You betcha! But genuinely, it is no more far-fetched than the recent antics of our friends at CRUK. Whereas you may have thought I had slightly lost the plot with my mind-reading claims; the UK media once again proved themselves to be suckers, or is it just because they are plain lazy, as they lapped up everything CRUK said to them, with the tabloid press in particular who took it all hook, line and sinker.
Just a couple of weeks ago, CRUK issued a statement that claimed the average skin cancer risk from tanning beds was more than double that of spending the same length of time in the mid-day, Mediterranean summer sun. It also claimed that nine out of ten of the 400 tanning beds tested had UV emission levels at about twice that of British and EU standards by which the maximum irradiance level must be 0.3W/m2.
What it didn’t say, was that the research was carried out over two years ago and since that time, there has been a huge effort by the indoor tanning industry and enforcement agencies to ensure compliance with the “new” standard. So, there is absolutely no doubt that if the same research was carried out today, the results would be completely different – plain and simple.
However, perhaps of more interest and something that we shall use to our advantage, is the fact that CRUK has now compared skin cancer risk with dosage. Using CRUK’s own research analysis, a compliant tanning bed session has the same “risk” as the equivalent time spent on the beach in the mid-day, Mediterranean summer sun.
So, let’s say the average tanning bed session on a 0.3-compliant bed is 12 minutes and the average amount of time spent in the sun each day on holiday is probably at least four hours (although recognizing for many sun lovers, it would be more!). It is then easy to work out that you would need to have at least (20) 12-minute sessions in a compliant tanning bed in one day to get the equivalent of one day’s holiday sun. The fact is that most tanning bed users don’t have more than 20 sessions per year! And I don’t know anyone who goes to the Mediterranean on holiday for just one day … so, where’s the risk?
Yes, our media gave us the opportunity to respond to the study but notwithstanding our response, the headlines were almost without exception that tanning bed use doubled (or worse) your risk of skin cancer.
The fact that tanning beds now have emission levels equal to that of the mid-day, Mediterranean summer sun when until just recently, CRUK and others were claiming tanning beds were up to 15 times stronger than the Mediterranean summer sun – this must be seen as progress by all sides. But I guess as with all things in life, there’s just no pleasing some people, even those with super powers!
In the tanning industry since 1982, Gary is Managing Director of the UK subsidiary of Ergoline, and runs Ergoline Plus, the exclusive distributor for a wide range of sunless products and spray systems. He is also Chairman of the Media Committee for the UK’s Sunbed Association & a European Sunlight Association member.
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