Tanning bed group calls doctors 'villains'

Aug. 23, 2012 at 7:37 PM

JACKSON, Mich., Aug. 23 (UPI) -- Tanning industry tactics used to counter science on harmful effects of indoor tanning seem to be "cribbed from Big Tobacco's playbook," a U.S. non-profit says.

Fairwarning.org -- which reports on health, safety and corporate behavioral issues -- said on its Web site the $4.9 billion indoor tanning industry makes doctors out to be villains for advising against using tanning beds.

An industry trade group portrays doctors, health authorities and the American Cancer Society as part of a profit-driven conspiracy to frighten the public into avoiding sunlight -- thereby causing an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency resulting in increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease and autism -- FairWarning.org said.

Industry trainees are given talking points to use in arguing tanning is a good source of vitamin D, although health experts advise people only need 15 minutes a day of natural sunlight, or a diet rich in vitamin D or a supplement to have sufficient levels of the vitamin.

"The industry has also gone on the offensive using tactics that appear cribbed from Big Tobacco's playbook to undermine scientific research and fund advocacy groups that serve the industry's interests," the report said.

The World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer designated ultraviolet-emitting tanning devices as carcinogenic in 2009.

Melanoma among white women ages 15-39 rose 50 percent from 1980 to 2004, the National Cancer Institute said, adding that evidence vitamin D might reduce risk of cancers is inconclusive.

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