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The beginning of summer brings the demand for that perfect suntan, whether from the beach or from a tanning bed. The indoor tanning industry is worth an estimated 5 billion dollars a year, and its fighting to keep that status through an aggressive new advertising campaign. KSMU's Megan Keathley has the story.
A war of words is going on between groups like the American Cancer Society, and the Indoor Tanning Association. The Indoor Tanning Association, or ITA, began its "Sunlight Scam" marketing campaign in March. The campaign asserts the public is being mislead when it comes to skin cancer and sun-tanning statistics.
The ITA says tanning results in increased vitamin D production, and that tanning benefits outweigh its risks, one of which is melanoma skin cancer. Jamie Carrol is the manager of Body FX, a local chain of tanning salons. She says her customers hit the tanning beds to look better and feel healthier.
But doctors nationwide, including practitioners here in Springfield, are contesting the ITA's statements. Dr. Raffaele Pannella is an associated dermatologist with St. John's Regional Medicine. He says that with today's fortified groceries, it's almost impossible to become vitamin D deficient, and adds that tanning to increase vitamin D levels would be similar to smoking cigarettes to relieve stress or lose weight.
Dr. Pannella says that many of the claims made in the ITA's new ad campaign are false, and based on out-dated information. This includes the statement that the UVA rays from indoor tanning are safer than outdoor UVB rays.
In addition to skin cancer risks, studies show that those who frequent tanning beds tend to develop wrinkles and sunspots sooner and more severely than those who don't. The Indoor Tanning Association does not refute any of these claims, stating that they wish only to promote "a responsible message about moderate tanning and sunburn prevention."