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The truth about UV Exposure

In light of Tuesday's media reports stating that tanning is an addictive behavior like smoking or drinking, Smart Tan Vice President Joseph Levy writes the following response:

These articles miss the point and, perhaps most importantly, cheapen the legitimacy of concern over real issues involving addiction.

Vitamin D made naturally from UVBHumans are not addicted to UV exposure. We are ATTRACTED to UV exposure. It is entirely natural because we are supposed to get regular UV exposure to be healthy. That is nature's design.

To say anyone is addicted to UV is like saying they are addicted to air, food or water. We are naturally attracted to these things because we need them.

Consider this: Vitamin D - the sunshine vitamin - is now linked to lower risk of most cancers, heart disease and many other disorders. The reason vitamin D research is so compelling today is that the natural vitamin D blood levels necessary to achieve cancer risk reduction as indicated by hundreds of new studies are only naturally achievable through regular UV exposure. That's because getting a suntan in a non-burning fashion will make 100 times more vitamin D than an 8-ounce glass of whole milk.

Vitamin D researchers now suggest we need 40-60 ng/ml of vitamin D in our blood stream in order to realize all the potential benefits of vitamin D. (www.D-action.org). Independent research has shown that indoor tanners have this level. Non-tanners do not. (Tangpricha V et al, Tanning is Associated with Optimal Vitamin D Status, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition).

Also of interest is a recent Australian study showing that 87 percent of Australian dermatologists - who live in a sunny climate - are majorly deficient in vitamin D at the end of summer. (Czarnecki D. Vitamin D Status of Clinical Dermatologists, Clinical and Experimental Dermatology). According to that study, dermatologists average vitamin D blood level was just 13.8 ng/ml - bordering on severe deficiency.

All of which is to say that Mother Nature meant for us to get regular UV exposure and the vitamin D levels that are naturally attainable only through UV exposure and that food and diet are unnatural surrogates at best for ‘The Sunshine Vitamin.' Getting a tan is a natural result of that intended behavior.

And finally consider this very important and often disregarded reality about UV: There is not one single study anywhere in the world showing that UV exposure in a non-burning fashion is a significant risk factor for skin damage. Indeed, there is no study in existence that has isolated and asked that specific question.

The reason: Sunshine is free - no one sells it to you. So why not jump on the bandwagon and oversimplify public health messages, throwing the baby out with the bath water. Here's something I believe with all my heart: If a chemical company sold you your sunshine, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

Keep in mind that billions of dollars are made telling you to avoid the sun - much more than will ever be made by the small businesses who offer professional indoor tanning services.

Enjoy your sunshine - from any source - in intelligent moderation.

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