The FDA has the media and subsequently many Americans in a (perhaps unjustified) uproar about teens using tanning beds, and they are now pushing to ban tanning for people under 18. It is time to set some of this witch-hunting straight.
The ruckus comes in the wake of a report that was released last year by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization. The report resulted in the IARC’s changing the status of tanning beds from ‘possibly carcinogenic’ to ‘carcinogenic.’
With the same argumentation and evidence, the sun itself would fall into that category.
The media definitely talks about it as a danger, and it provides real-world stories about people who contracted melanoma after too much exposure to the sun. The problem is that often, the most extreme, rare and dramatic cases are cited, which serves to convince the American public that fear of the sun is justified. Just take a look at how many Americans behave – putting sunscreen on every morning, only walking to their car, then to their office building, etc., avoiding “overexposure” at every turn. What used to be a glorious, golden orb in the sky is now a menace to society.
With all the jargon and evidence the FDA cites as dangers for humans, people are becoming increasingly afraid to venture out into the light of day. In fact, tanning beds are designed to synthesize the perfect conditions of a summer’s day, when the UV-rays are balanced to perfectly stimulate the maximum growth of melanin pigment, as well as vitamin D. It is because of these ideal conditions that people can absorb all the UVs and produce all the vitamin D they need in such a short period of time.
And if you look at the evidence from an unbiased viewpoint, you will find that while some Americans are receiving too much UV rays, many more are receiving too few. Vitamin D is a crucial for the human body; even the FDA knows that. But with the media’s constant scapegoating of the sun and tanning beds as the cause of melanoma and cancer, many people are getting the wrong idea. Demonizing the sun is having a profoundly negative impact on our society. According to Dr. Michael Holick, author of The UV Advantage, 40% of Americans are suffering from a vitamin D deficiency, which causes depression, SAD, and has been linked to late development of Schizophrenia. See Natural News’ interview with Dr. Holick at (http://www.naturalnews.com/005546_D…) for more details.
While not advocating a consistent solar diet of 3-4 hours of exposure per day, the benefits of some exposure are substantiated. Clearly, there are some people who are tanning too much and contracting melanoma as a consequence. The evidence cited in the IARC study is not completely fallacious, but is likely provided in a biased context, which magnifies the negative implications of sun exposure. For instance, the study found that teens and 20-somethings who used tanning beds were 75% more at risk for melanoma.
That is a significant number, but may be more indicative of how much pressure American teens are under to look tan and beautiful, than it is of the danger of tanning beds. If teens think that they will attract more attention if they are tan, then many will not stop at the tanning bed. Slapping a law into effect that bans the teens from tanning beds, would only send the vast majority of those kids out into the sun for their daily bronzing, which would not stop the problem.
We should look a little harder at what the data actually means and how it should be interpreted. When the FDA wages war on tanning beds, they are waging a de facto war on the sun itself, which our bodies are genetically predisposed to need in order to remain healthy and happy. The FDA should be a little more careful about the effects their messages have on the people they are intended to advise. If the message is causing widespread depression, then it needs to change. Of course, depression feeds the pharmaceutical industry, so they may be achieving the impact they want, after all.
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