For Immediate Release: February 1, 2012
Contact: Berna Diehl
Jones Public Affairs
Statement from Timothy Turnham,
Executive Director Melanoma Research Foundation
Regarding House Energy and Commerce Report on Tanning Industry
An industry built on exposing people to a proven carcinogen is knowingly marketing their services to young people and misleading them about the risks to which they are being exposed. That is the essence of a new investigative report1 released today by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which documents the blatant disregard that the tanning industry has for the health and well-being of young people. The report offers compelling data showing that the indoor tanning industry routinely denies harms and claims health benefits related to tanning bed use.
The boldness of the misinformation communicated by tanning salons to young people is apparent in the report. Among the results, investigators found that four out of five salons claimed that indoor tanning has health benefits. Some even told investigators, who represented themselves as fair-skinned teen girls, that indoor tanning prevents cancer. Investigators also found that tanning salons are using the current lax Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations to lend to an air of safety around the devices, making it clear that the FDA must act immediately to more strictly regulate tanning beds.
Indoor tanning significantly increases the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies tanning beds as “carcinogenic to humans.” The group found a 75 percent increase in risk of melanoma for people who started tanning before age 30.2
In contrast to the tanning industry’s health claims, the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) sees the true consequences of tanning too often. Within the MRF’s community are many young people, particularly girls and young women, who have both a history of tanning and a melanoma diagnosis.
The misinformation campaign supported by the tanning industry is jarringly reminiscent of previous campaigns by the tobacco industry. The findings of this report demand swift and decisive action:
- The FDA must act on repeated recommendations that tanning beds be more strictly regulated. Several staff from tanning salons pointed to the FDA approval of tanning beds as evidence that they pose no health risk, so this action is urgent.
- Minors should not be allowed to use tanning beds. Congress should enact federal legislation prohibiting the use of tanning beds by minors.
- Parents must start a dialogue with their children about the dangers of tanning, just as they do about drugs, tobacco, texting and driving, or sex.
By spreading misinformation and creating a false sense of security, the tanning industry is playing fast and loose with the lives of young people. The public deserves honest, truthful information about the risks of tanning. This report is a clear call to action for all stakeholders interested in protecting today’s youth from tomorrow’s melanoma diagnosis.
1 "New Report Reveals Indoor Tanning Industry’s False and Misleading Practices," a statement released from the Committee on Energy and Commerce. Report prepared for Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Rep. Diana DeGette, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, 2/1/2012. View complete text of the report here.
2 International Agency for Research on Cancer “Sunbeds and UV Radiation” 2009
http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/iarcnews/2009/sunbeds_uvradiation.php. Accessed January 2012.
Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, is one of the fastest growing cancers in the United States and can strike men and women of all ages, all races and skin types. In fact, with a one in 50 lifetime risk of developing melanoma, nearly 69,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with the disease in 2010, resulting in 8,700 deaths or one person every hour. Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25- to 29-years-old and the second most common cancer in adolescents and young adults 15- to 29-years-old.
About Melanoma Research Foundation
The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) is the largest independent, national organization devoted to melanoma in the United States. Committed to the support of medical research in finding effective treatments and eventually a cure for melanoma, the MRF also educates patients and physicians about prevention, diagnosis and the treatment of melanoma. The MRF is an active advocate for the melanoma community, helping to raise awareness of this disease and the need for a cure. The MRF’s website is the premier source for melanoma information seekers. More information is available at www.melanoma.org.