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Sunbed industry hits back at 'skewed' study

26/08/2008

Sunbed industry hits back at 'skewed' study

The New Zealand indoor tanning industry says an Otago University study about the growth of tanning services is misleading.The study found that between 1992 and 2006 there was a 241 per cent increase in businesses advertising some form of indoor tanning service in the Yellow Pages telephone directories. There was also a 525 per cent increase in the number of wholesale providers to the industry.
Tony Reeder, director of the university's Cancer Society social and behavioural research unit, said there was growing evidence linking use of indoor cosmetic tanning equipment with an increased risk of skin cancer, and melanoma in particular.Another researcher, Janet Jopson, said there were good arguments for regulatory controls to strengthen existing voluntary guidelines for sunbeds.
INTANZYesterday, the Indoor Tanning Association said the study was "misleading" and challenged the method used. The association said the study was irrelevant because it counted advertisers offering only spray-tanning rather than UV tanning.
Association spokeswoman Gabrielle Brown said the research was "flimsy at best". "It is yet another piece of skewed information perpetrated by the anti-tanning lobby with the intention of scaring the public away from our services.
"The odds have been stacked against us for some time and particularly since the tragic Claire Oliver melanoma story broke last year [on TV One's Sunday programme]."
Ms Brown said because the Otago study finished with the 2006 edition of the Yellow Pages, the public were being misled.
She said the negative effect of the Sunday piece and a Consumer magazine investigation, which found a number of tanning operators falling short of voluntary standards, were not included. "We're all really struggling, so to read the stories that came out last week which seem to indicate there is some sort of burgeoning tanning underworld developing in this country, is just ludicrous." The association is involved with a revision of the 2002 voluntary standards.
"Humans need ultraviolet light for survival, and for health. The sun-scare mentality we are seeing now is dangerous, and irresponsible," said Ms Brown. She said indoor tanning facilities had been unfairly blamed for contributing to melanoma skin cancer. The association said there was no causal connection between sunbed use and melanoma skin cancer.
"The fact is that the relationship between UV exposure and melanoma is complex and largely misunderstood," a statement said. "Prominent dermatologists now say that poorly informed public health agencies, along with pharmaceutical heavyweights profiting enormously from the sale of anti-sun cosmetics and sun protection products, are to blame for perpetuating an unfounded myth about sunbed use and melanoma."

The association said "moderate ultraviolet light exposure in a controlled indoor tanning facility, for those who can develop a tan, is a sensible way to maintain healthy vitamin D levels in the body".

- NZPA Tuesday August 26, 2008

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