Atlanta, GA 30348
Dear Ms. Neville;
This is in response to the June 3, 2002 Talkback Live segment regarding indoor tanning.
CNN did its listeners a disservice by not allowing a representative of the indoor tanning industry to participate in this segment.
Since 1986, the Suntanning Association for Education has existed for the purpose of educating the public and tanning salon operators about moderation, overexposure, and responsible tanning practicesfor those who choose to obtain a tan.
Your correspondent Rhonda Rowland quoted a new study regarding sunscreen usage and the popularity of indoor tanning with teenagers. Interestingly, the same week your segment ran, CNN.com/Health reported that one of the worlds leading medical journals, the Journal of the American Medical Association, criticized itself pointing out that published studies are often biased, fail to mention the source of funding, and may exaggerate the importance of the findings. Sometimes unfavorable results are suppressed. We all need to take the findings of the JAMA seriously and consider them whenever we are presented with legitimate studies or simply selective surveys.
Dr. Bruce Katz, also on the segment, correctly pointed out that the ozone layer has deteriorated. This now allows for levels of the hazardous UVC ray to reach our earth, which should concern those that tan outdoors. Indoor tanning offers a controlled environment to obtain a cosmetic tan, by way of a timing system and exposure schedule contoured by ones skin type. The natural sun offers no such control.
Dr. Katz also stated that sunless tanning products are "the way to go" and that "they are completely safe." I disagree. He should have pointed out that certain people might suffer photosensitivity and possible rashes from these products, as well as a false sense of security (protection) from having a sunless tan.
These products do not contain sunscreens and put the user at risk by giving them the impression of a photoprotective tan when actually no photoprotection has been developed.
Katz continued "avoid sun exposure between 10:00 and 3:00 in the afternoon". However, one visit to the beach, pool, golf course, tennis court, lake, amusement park, and many other outdoor areas will tell you that this is advice that is simply not heeded. Why? It just isn't realistic. Will parents stop activities and usher their children inside during those hours? Give the public advice that they can and will use. Prudent advice would be; be aware of the suns intensity between those hours, use adequate sunscreens, reapply as necessary, and use clothing to cover up and avoid sunburn. Is Dr. Katz aware of the meteoric rise in the obesity of our youth in this country? What effect will his advice have on our children, who already inundated with such outdoor diversions as computers games, emails, DVDs, videos, etc.?
Mary MacLean of Glamour stated "hopefully the message is going out that there is no such thing as a safe tan" She should be aware that the Food and Drug Administration has regulated the indoor tanning industry since 1980 and forbid such claims. Indoor tanning products are categorized as medical devices by the FDA and fall under the jurisdiction of the FDA's Center for Device and Radiological Health. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission monitors any statement of relative safety or health benefits from all indoor tanning businesses.
Although comments were made regarding melanoma risk, no one pointed out the overwhelming relationship of heredity to melanoma.
Does UVA contribute to photoaging? There have been linking studies. However, we all age. The outside elements like the wind, acid rain, smoking, alcoholic consumption, stress, and gravity can contribute to aging and wrinkling.
The message from the Suntanning Association for Education is:
Those who choose tan should tan indoors, with moderation and responsibility. Avoid overexposure and sunburn. Don't avoid the sun, but be aware of its intensity, use a proper SPF and don't get too much of a good thing.
I am based in metro Atlanta, have appeared on CNN before and offer my availability to discuss tanning issues on a factual basis on which your listeners can then make an informed decision whether to tan indoors or outdoors, doing so responsibly and in moderation.
Suntanning Association for Education