Some of the world’s leading vitamin D researchers are now coming out publicly to support a balanced message about sun exposure, calling for public health groups and the media to realize that vitamin D deficiency in the world today is without a doubt caused by overzealous sun avoidance.
Their message: Dial it back a notch. Sunlight makes vitamin D and other substances in the skin that the body needs.
The video was released by Grassroots Health, a public health advocacy group based in San Diego, following a vitamin D-sunlight conference held at the University of California-San Diego where researchers unanimously supported a more-balanced look at sunshine.
It contains some of the most frank and direct statements supporting balance perhaps ever made in a public presentation.
“The most natural way to make vitamin D is to expose our skin to the sun, particularly around mid-day,” Creighton University Vitamin D pioneer Dr. Robert Heaney said on the video. Heaney is widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost vitamin D experts. He cited over-use of sunscreen as a public health mistake.
“I think its important to understand that although sunscreen can be a very helpful thing for us, the sunscreen manufacturers have a vested interest in scaring us to death so that we’ll use more of their product. That I think needs to be resisted. I think that’s a mistake. If you have a chance to be outdoors, I think you should be outdoors when you can.” Heaney said.
Dr. Michael Holick — a world-renowned vitamin D expert from Boston University who has published several hundred papers on vitamin D and co-authored a study showing that sunbed users have 90 percent higher vitamin D levels as compared to non-users, encourages “sensible sun exposure” not just for vitamin D, but for a host of other natural by-products produced in the skin when it is exposed to UV light. Holick defines “sensible” as never sunburning and wearing sunscreen after you’ve gotten adequate sun.
“There are probably a lot of other biologic processes that are going on in your skin when you are exposed to sunlight that need to be really-investigated,” Holick said. “One of them potentially is that not only when you’re exposed to sunlight do you make vitamin D in your skin but you make at least 5-6 additional vitamin D-like photoproducts that we think have unique properties in the skin that may actually help reduce the risk of skin cancer and may have improvement in overall skin health.”
Sunbeds as a source of UV-induced vitamin D were also supported in the video. “Sunbeds of course can be used to make vitmain D. It’s been one of the ways that we’ve measured the amount of vitamin D that skin has the capacity to make. So what we claim about sunshine and how it makes is actually suntan parlor results,” Dr. Reinhold Veith, a world-leading vitamin D reseracher from the University of Toronto, said on the video.
Dr. Cedric Garland, a vitamin D pioneer from the University of California-San Diego, congratulated Australians for coming around to embrace sensible non-burning sun exposure. “Australia is now promoting a D-Break in winter, and I think it’s a great idea,” Garland said.
We’re not the only ones promoting a balanced approach toward UV light. Numerous independent health advocates and groups are passionate about educating the public on the benefits of moderate UV light from the sun or sunbeds.
Here are some PSAs created by these advocates to educate on the importance of UV exposure:
Dr. Mercola – Sun Exposure
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Dr. Cannell – 30 Seconds
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Dr. Cannell – 60 Seconds
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The U.S. Acting Surgeon General today issued “A Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer” – a 112-page report that specifically targets reducing sunbed usage as one of its action points. The American Suntanning Association issued the following press statement to the national media (See link below):
We suggest you refer reporters to this news link.
The American Academy of Dermatology Association has been lobbying the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Surgeon General’s office for more than five years to encourage the Surgeon General to issue a report on indoor tanning. Last July, Dr. Boris Lushniak, a dermatologist, became acting surgeon general. Within three weeks he posted in the U.S. Federal Register that he was collecting information for such a report. Today’s publication is a culmination of that process.
This story is likely to generate negative press in the short-term — most likely among those who wish to compare UV exposure to tobacco, which was the subject of the famous 1964 Surgeon General’s report. ASA is working to re-establish balance in how the science is reported and to develop bi-partisan support for responsible suncare messaging moving forward.
Yesterday, the FDA issued its final order reclassifying tanning beds from low-risk (class I) to moderate-risk (class II) devices. The order primarily impacts bed manufacturers, in that: (1) it requires that manufacturers include language on tanning beds that explicitly warns against use by persons under the age of 18 years; and (2) certain marketing materials promoting tanning beds must carry additional warning language and contraindications, including “Persons repeatedly exposed to UV radiation should be regularly evaluated for skin cancer.”
While we are disappointed that the FDA did not actively include our industry in this process before issuing the order, it does not come as a complete surprise as it basically implements what the FDA proposed in May 2013. If your employees or customers ask, let them know we remain committed to responsible access to UV exposure for the millions of Americans who choose to tan.
There is nothing you need to do at the present time in your salons. The bed manufacturers have roughly 15 months before the warning labels are required. We’ll keep you updated on any more developments.
Please direct any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
American Suntanning Association
A short segment on an episode of the TV program “The Doctors” which aired Wednesday, March 12 attempted to suggest that a 23-year-old woman contracted a MRSA bacterial staph infection from visiting a tanning salon in California.
The woman – identified only as Brittany in the segment – did not identify any tanning salon, but claimed, “One day, after I went tanning, when I got home, I noticed I had a small little pimple on my stomach. I was thinking that it was just going to go away, but it didn’t.” Two weeks later the bump had grown and a friend who worked at another tanning salon allegedly told her she should go to the emergency room.
According to the segment, Britney’s doctor did not tell her that MRSA can be transmitted on just about any surface. “The doctor asked me if I had been in a gym or a tanning salon or anywhere that could have that type of infection in there,” Brittany said.
From there, the segment turned into an attack on tanning – despite never even discussing how the tanning unit was isolated as the source.
According to the University of Chicago MRSA Research Center and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, staph bacteria are one of the most common causes of skin infections in the United States, with one-quarter to one-third of the population carrying dormant staph bacteria. MRSA is a type of staph resistant to most antibiotics, with about 1 percent of the population carrying the bacteria.
According to Medicine.Net, “There are two major ways people become infected with MRSA. The first is physical contact with someone who is either infected or is a carrier (people who are not infected but are colonized with the bacteria on their body) of MRSA. The second way is for people to physically contact MRSA on any objects such as door handles, floors, sinks, or towels that have been touched by a MRSA-infected person or carrier. Normal skin tissue in people usually does not allow MRSA infection to develop; however, if there are cuts, abrasions, or other skin flaws such as psoriasis (a chronic inflammatory skin disease with dry patches, redness, and scaly skin), MRSA may proliferate. Many otherwise healthy individuals, especially children and young adults, do not notice small skin imperfections or scrapes and may be lax in taking precautions about skin contacts.
MRSA can be spread by contact with doorknobs and even doctors’ stethoscopes – a study published this month in Mayo Clinics Proceedings found that stethoscopes are common carriers of MRSA and are dirtier than doctors’ hands.
If asked by clients, please let them know there is no evidence that bacterial infection can be spread on the surface of a tanning unit that has been sanitized with products designed to clean tanning beds between uses. Any media inquiries should be directed to email@example.com.