New report has little effect on tanning industry

DOWNEY - The health risks of tanning beds have been heavily debated for years. A recent report, released by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer, concluded that the ultraviolet light used in tanning beds is as carcinogenic as asbestos, arsenic, radium and cigarettes.The committee, which included 20 scientists from nine different counties, stated that the risk of skin cancer increases 75% when people start using tanning beds before the age of thirty. In addition, the report reiterates what previous studies have concluded; people who use tanning beds are eight times more likely to get melanoma than those who do not. Although over the past few years there have been continued efforts to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of tanning bed usage on individuals' health, roughly 14% of all adolescent females in the Unites States are currently using tanning beds. This percentage comes as no shock, when one realizes that now, more than ever before, there is increased pressure put upon women to look a certain way. The tanning industry, which basically works to capitalize off of these new pressures, induces them to look toward tanning as the means of achieving beauty. In addition, teenagers are far less likely to consider the long term effects of tanning, and thus dismiss any knowledge or advice parents and educators give them based on their immediate urge to achieve what the media portrays as beautiful. The tanning industry has taken a harsh stand on the reports, in large part, believing them to be flawed studies that do not truly reflect safe tanning but rather focus their research on people who engage in unsafe tanning practices. Unsafe tanning practices include individuals tanning longer or more often than instructed to. Barbara Stowe, R.N. for the Gerard Nat M.D. Cosmetic, Surgical & Dermatology clinic weighs in her opinion stating, "Tanning beds are no more harmful or damaging than the sun, although due to their convenience people tend to overuse them and inflict skin damage." Stowe reminds everyone that limited sun exposure helps preserve the health of your skin. The Classic Tan, located in Downey, offers both tanning beds and spray tanning, a new form of tanning that does not subject your skin to harmful exposures. The owner, Jesele Amoroso, states, "Tanning beds are not any worse than sunlight. In fact with a tanning bed you can control the time, which ensures that you avoid prolonged sun exposure." When asked about the effects of reports, such as the ones released by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer, Amoroso states, "The studies have affected business only slightly; the reports are why the industry is moving toward airbrush." Amoroso also adds, "The true problem has been the fact that with the economy, less people have been going tanning because it is a luxury." Amoroso also points out that in some studies, tanning beds have been compared with commonly used items, such as oral contraceptives, estrogen therapy, red wine, solar radiation, beer and salted fish. In such comparison products, people have also ignored the warnings of studies, due to their inability to avoid everything health professionals list as being damaging to health. Pauline Grzebyk, owner of the Downey tanning business, Aussie Tan, states, "It's hard to defend yourself against health reports. I have been in the tanning industry for 20 years and feel that every year similar reports surface around summertime. If it was that crucial why don't they bring it up in the winter? Tanning is tanning whether you do it inside or outside." In addition, Grzebyk points out that tanning beds are a great way to receive a sufficient quantity of the necessary Vitamin D. More importantly, Grzebyk tries to convey to everyone that uses tanning, "everything in moderation is okay." Grzebyk herself only tans during certain times of the year, feeling that this ensures that her skin has a break from UV radiation. Thus given the ongoing heated controversy regarding the usage of tanning beds, it comes as no surprise that many have chosen not to believe the numerous conflicting studies that have arisen regarding the health effects. ********** Published: August 7, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 16