Tanning Salons Prevent Sunburn, Say Tanning Salons In Missouri

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If you’re planning a trip to Mexico in the dead of winter, you should hit up a tanning salon to put down a “base” so that you can lounge on the beach while on vacation without getting a sunburn–at least, that was the logic once used to use to justify exposing ourselves to harmful UV rays in indoor tanning beds. Now we know better, right? Wrong, according to a new study that says 80% of tanning salons in Missouri  spout this exact myth to their customers.

Unlike in some states, there are no indoor tanning regulations in Missouri, so researchers wanted to find out what was really going on in the tanning salons there. They surveyed a random selection of tanning salons throughout the state, and found that not only did 80% lie about that whole sunburn prevention thing; 43% also claimed that there are no health risks associated with indoor tanning, and 65% allowed 10 and 12 year old children to use their facilities. Not surprisingly, the study authors argue that regulations should be in place to keep customers better informed and protected from raising their risk of skin cancer.

Although tanning businesses aren’t regulated in Missouri state, the Food and Drug Administration does have a set of national guidelines and recommendations. Not surprisingly, the researchers found that most of the tanning salons were pretty bad at following them. “Despite increasing evidence that UVR exposure in indoor-tanning devices is associated with skin cancer, ocular damage, and premature photoaging,” they said, “tanning facilities in Missouri often misinformed consumers regarding these risks and lack of health benefits and inconsistently provided information about the Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines for tanning devices.”

Tanning salons elsewhere have also claimed that tanning protects against depression, and they’ve tried pretty hard to keep studies linking indoor tanning beds to melanoma under the radar. So it’s not that surprising that the American Academy of Dermatologists recently found that women are still woefully misguided about the “health benefits” of tanning.

Perhaps it’s time for more than just a recommended set of guidelines?


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    • Lauren Buck

      There are a number of reasons why this is a ridiculous piece of research and in no way relates to today’s professional tanning salons in the United States. This “research” is nothing but a phone survey. It is disingenuous to make the jump from what is said on the phone to saying that salons would let a 10-year-old tan. This research is also out of date, from 2007, and most notably the study includes a large percentage of non-tanning salon locations that have tanning beds (gyms, etc.) Operators of these places are not properly trained like the operators at professional tanning salons, thus it would make sense that they would provide the wrong information, skewing the data…..Given that the authors are lobbying for tanning legislation, it’s not surprising that they would do their best to make their research sound as bad as possible. The fact that they make the absurd comparison between tanning and tobacco just shows that they have no intention of being reasonable. Hundreds of thousands of people die directly from tobacco use every year while around 10,000 die of skin cancer per year (primarily older men who have never stepped foot in a tanning salon). This comparison also ignores the fact that there are undeniable benefits of UV exposure, whereas there are none with tobacco. UV light from tanning beds is only listed as a class 1 carcinogen because UV light from the sun is classified as the same. Also included in this category are birth control, salted fish and wine. It’s amazing to me that any scientist would make such a comparison. Also, it’s important to note that the indoor tanning industry supports the implementation of parental consent laws. Do your research before you start listening to the garbage they are throwing out there!