Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunlight, Vitamin D and My Friends

I've written in this blog how I discovered that sunlight is the only real way to get vitamin D, and how visiting a tanning salon changed my life forever. 

Before tanning — I was vitamin D deficient and in pain whenever I went for a long walk. After tanning for a few months, I've got the same vitamin D levels in my blood as an outdoor worker, and going for a walk is no longer a problem. 

My vitamin D level? 75 ng/ml. Before tanning, it was just 11 ng/ml.

Do you know your vitamin D level? I’m amazed how many of my friends STILL don’t know theirs. That’s why I make it a point to tell them my story — how sunshine changed my life. How a girl who never thought she could go outside without burning herself now enjoys regular sun and tans moderately in a salon. How I’m convinced that vitamin D supplements could never have done all of that.

Sunlight makes endorphins in your skin when you’re exposed. It regulates your production of serotonin. No vitamin D pill can do that. Could it be any more obvious that we need to let some sun back into our lives?

This story needs to be told over and over again. And that’s why I do it.

Get your vitamin D level checked. It’s called a calcidiol test. You need to be 40-60 ng/ml (100-150 nmol/L) to be sufficient. ( And sunlight is nature’s way of getting your vitamin D the right way.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Don't Panic

These days there seems to be an outright panic of the general public about UV rays. I am no doctor and am not at all qualified to make health recommendations so I’d like to make this clear that the following is based on my opinion with some recent news I have read that has verified my feeling on the subject.

I read an article this week about how genetics play a role in who is at risk for developing skin cancer. That makes sense to me. Think about it, skin cancer occurs in many different people at all different stages of life. It strikes people who tan, and people who don’t tan, fair skinned people and darker skin tones, men and women, it can’t be just about UV exposure. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to minimize the impact of the disease. I feel for anyone that has had this awful disease. A few years ago my mom had basil cell carcinoma on her forehead. They caught it early and it was removed without any further issue. I would like to add that my mom is fair skinned and burned easily throughout her life. She has never in her life used a tanning bed. She has used caution when out in the sun. She also has battled breast cancer as well as her older sister, indicating to me that there could be a genetic factor there. Cancer is a widespread problem and to point the finger at tanning beds as the evil cause of all skin cancer is very misleading. UV light contributes, but I really feel the relationship between UV and skin cancer is not as clear cut as many believe. For instance, did you know that melanoma, the rarest but most deadly of skin cancers, often develops on the sole of the foot or lower in the leg, even under toenails… not necessarily the prime places on the body exposed to sunlight regularly. So I really feel like the genetic make-up of a person would be a determining factor as to whether or not UV exposure is risky. That also makes sense to me given the way that skin type is taken so seriously with salons when evaluating what is the safest way to tan. Skin type 1 is turned away from tanning beds because there is too much risk of burn.  There seems to be an assumption by the press and even the general public that using UV lamps/ beds is an automatic skin cancer sentence.

There was also an article this week about risks associated with the UV lamps that nail salons use.  I simply can’t believe how over the top the UV light panic is. Nail salons use these lamps for curing gel nails and your fingertips are in there for about 30 seconds. The gel polish lasts for over 2 weeks so exposure is unbelievably minimal, yet there was enough of a panic about the exposure to conduct a study. You get more exposure walking to the salon from your car!

My daughter in middle school was discussing tanning with some of her friends at school and she mentioned how her mom goes to a tanning salon. Her friends all said the same thing; “She is going to get skin cancer” it is rampant. Full blown panic from over-hyped and inaccurate statistics drilled into our heads by the same people that are telling us to slather chemical sunscreen all over our bodies every single day. Those people are the ones selling the chemical sunscreen so they have a vested interest in keeping the hype and panic alive.

To be clear, chances are if I end up with skin cancer it will be from the terrible burns I have suffered throughout my life before I started tanning. I truly believe that. I also feel the minor risk associated with UV lamps is better than the major risks of having a low Vitamin D level. A risk I am willing to take so I choose to tan. 

This panic is perpetuated by the media by not having an objective view of what the risks and benefits are. I rarely see anything talking about how tanning is a viable option to raise Vitamin D levels.  There isn't a balanced approach and it gives tanning terrible publicity. Reports and articles are skewed to the negative more often than not and I am here to say there is good that can come from tanning. Don’t Panic.

The article about how genetics figures in to skin cancer is linked here:

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sunscreen in Winter

Lately I have been seeing several articles suggesting that we all wear as much sunscreen in the winter as we do in the summer. The last report I read says a shot glass full of sunscreen on our bodies every day. 

We are currently in Vitamin D winter here in the U.S. Because of the position of the earth during these months we can’t really get UV exposure enough for the body to produce an adequate amount of Vitamin D. If your skin isn't getting enough sunlight to produce Vitamin D, it isn't getting enough to burn easily. So why are these reports saying sunscreen is still so important?  I posted this info in my earlier blog post about Vitamin D Day, but it is still relevant so here it is again. notice the statistic stating that the average American has a level of 22ng/ml and that number dips lower in the winter months. 

It is this kind of thinking that made me Vitamin D deficient for so many years, and for no benefit at all. I see it and hear it all the time. TV commercials tell us to use sunscreen, open a magazine and look at all the ads for products touting their SPF level and they are all pushing the high SPF numbers. (Which are totally unnecessary by the way, anything over a 20 or 25 SPF is just another marketing ploy.) Sunscreen is only to be used to prevent sunburn. These companies can’t legally sell their product for any other reason. But they make billions telling us to over-use it. Until recently, I bought into it, I over-used it, and I’m not going back to a life hiding from the sun. Take a look at my earlier blog posts and you will see what that did for me.  There is an epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency perpetuated by Dermatology and these companies saying that we should block the sun at all times. The message needs to change to a more responsible one, but that won’t happen considering the amount of money to be made if everyone continues to slather on chemical sunscreen every day. So they will continue to try to scare us about the dangers of the sun with their inaccurate statistics and misleading information.

Let’s put down that sunscreen and live life without fear.  Use it when you need it, but realize you don’t need it as much as they say.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Hooray for the Holidays!

I tanned today and wow did it feel good.  Considering how stressful the holiday season can be (and for me Thanksgiving is the most stressful) tanning plays a role in helping me relax. I find that getting 15 minutes of time to myself, uninterrupted by anyone or anything is a treat during this season. I suppose it is because sunshine and UV rays release endorphins in the system to make us feel better. This is another surprising benefit I’ve been able to experience through tanning. I kind of touched on it in my last blog post about being depressed when I would go long periods of time without the sun. Even though I couldn’t be out in it, I wanted to see it. Now that I am able to be in it, I have a boost in my spirits when I am able to soak up some rays. I really didn’t expect to have this experiment affect me in so many ways: not only physically, but mentally. Tanning can have a calming effect. In years past the holidays were a time of stress and depression for me. I would spend my days in the doldrums, miserable. I had no energy or enthusiasm for the season that so many people were excited about. I had a hard time getting into the spirit of things.  Even my family could tell I wasn’t feeling myself. But since I have been tanning and have time for myself, I have noticed that my attitude has improved. My energy level is better and my general outlook is much more positive. Tanning has actually changed the way I deal with the holidays and diminished my stress considerably. I believe that the way UV rays interact with my system has been a key to this transformation. I am more productive at work, I am less likely to over-react to negative situations, and find I handle adversity better. I feel like I am managing things related to the holidays better this year. The one thing that is different this year over years past? Tanning.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Worst Burn I Ever Had

When I was 18, I went to Water World with a friend. We spent the entire day in the sun on a hot July Colorado day. I never really spent a lot of time outside and, being young and stupid, I didn't wear any sunscreen. I am very fair skinned and I never really tanned, but I never had a bad burn up until that day.  By the time I got home that day I was beet red and felt a little sick. Within a few hours, I had blisters forming on my face and my eyes were swollen shut. My face was puffy and my lips were 3 times their normal size. It was awful. I looked like some hideous creature from a horror movie. I went to work and my bosses sent me home because I looked so frightening. It was quite a traumatic experience for a vain teenage girl. I was emotionally scarred. Ever since that day I was extra sensitive to the sun. I would burn and my face would get blotchy after only about 10 minutes in the sun. I soon became very aware of how much time I spent outdoors. I avoided it as much as possible. My face was the most sensitive, but any exposed skin would burn so I was always covered, or only out at night.

But I had a love hate relationship with the sun. Living in Colorado most of my life, I am used to sunshine almost every day. I clearly remember going to visit family on the east coast and it was overcast and cloudy every day of the visit not only one time, but every time I visited. I couldn't wait to get back to Colorado and see the sunshine. It was confusing to me, I was depressed without it, but I couldn't be IN it. That all changed for me this year.  

The reason I am telling you about this awful burn is to make a point. There is a way to tan properly and with a base tan, you have a natural protection against sunburn. It took me over 20 years to learn this nugget of information. I was fully on the sunblock/sun avoidance bandwagon because of my inability to tan and my super sensitivity to the sun. I was very skeptical that my experiment to tan in a salon would work at all. Remember, my main goal was to bring up my Vitamin D levels so I really had no idea how I could make this work without getting a nasty burn.  As I mentioned in my last blog post, the staff at Tan the Moon knew what they were doing and they helped make this possible. This year I have had several occasions in which I spent time outdoors for several hours, with no SPF or just SPF of 20 on my face, without even a hint of burn.  I know I've said this before, but it is worth repeating, this has changed my life for the better. Last year I could not to the pool with my daughters during the day. We always waited until night time to go swimming, which was fun, but many of their friends would go in the daytime and I couldn't be guaranteed that I could find a spot under some shade to go with them, so THEY missed out. My ability to go for a walk on the weekend or just sit outside while the girls play at the park is incredible to me. It is something I never want to take for granted. When I look back to what my life was like before l tanned, I feel like I was a hermit.  I don’t want to return to that lifestyle, and I don’t want other people to live like that if my story can help them. I feel like the constant message of wearing sunscreen all the time and avoiding the sun should be toned down. It is a dangerous message because so many people are taking that advice and now we have low Vitamin D levels. I know I don’t reach a big audience with my little blog, but I hope those that do read this will know there is good sunshine, good tanning, and good sun beds. Spread the word!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Process

I read a blog post from someone the other day about whether or not tanning is safe. It was written by a student that had done some research on how tanning works because they had some knowledge about how skin reacts to UV rays and how a tan is produced. But they clearly had never really been in a tanning salon because that bit was not at all accurate. It stated that being in a tanning bed gives you too much UVA and UVB in concentrated amounts and doesn't allow your body to build up the melanin needed to produce a tan. I commented on the blog and checked back on it a few days later, and to my surprise, my comment was not approved by the moderator. The subject made me think about the misconception of how a tanning salon works. Maybe I should address that here because I am guilty of not completely understanding the process before I started tanning. I thought it was going to be like it was back in the 80's when my best friend tanned occasionally in a salon. She went in, told them how long she wanted to tan and that was that. I don’t even think there were different types of beds back then.  There have been many advancements in the process and regulations have been put in place since then.

My background is in restaurants. So I will put this in terms comparing the process to what I know. The biggest thing restaurants work on is making sure their staff handles and serves food safely. If that doesn’t happen, their customers get sick, that is to be avoided. They train their staff to properly prepare and handle the food. There are regular health inspections to assure the safest practices are being used.  The same approach is made in tanning salons by training their staff to properly handle a customer’s skin. If they don’t do it right, the customer burns, that is to be avoided. While I’m not certain how regulations are enforced in the tanning industry, I do know there are laws and restrictions on their practices, I just don’t have those details readily available.

So what happens when you go into a tanning salon for the first time? The salon employee will ask a handful of questions about your skin (freckles? Moles? Coloring? Tendency to burn, ever been able to tan, etc.) Based on your answers about your skin, and using their judgment based on what they can see, they will determine your skin type.  Skin type 1 being the fairest, and the one that can’t tan, if you are determined to be a skin type 1 the salon would only offer spray tan because there is too much risk for burn. Skin type 6 is the darkest, and doesn't burn.  this link shows the 6 different types and how they typically tan.
So once the staff member determines your skin type, they figure which type of bed would work best for you. Just as there are different levels of skin types, there are different level tanning beds as well. Once that is determined the staff member will help you decide how long you should be in the bed. There are limits of how long you can be in based on both the above factors of skin type and bed type. There is science involved, it isn't just throwing you in the bed and turning it on until you feel you have had enough. These are not kids off the street with minimal training. It isn't like what you would find in a retail clothing store.  I know they follow these guidelines, this is how I was able to tan for the first time in my life. I went in to tan yesterday and there was a woman who was a new client. The salon employee took her time explaining the different aspects of how things work.  She was informative and didn't rush through anything because I was waiting. I respect that. This young lady was not the same girl I worked with so I feel confident the entire staff takes this very seriously. That is good business.  

Hopefully this brief explanation of the process helps people better understand that there is a right way to tan to reduce the risk of burning while getting the desired result for the customer. If it isn't done properly, the salon wouldn't stay in business very long. For a salon, a well trained staff and attention to the customer’s needs while educating them on the best way to achieve their goal is the key to success.  With that being said I’d like to give a big shout out to the staff at Tan the Moon in my neighborhood for being such a big part of my tanning success. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Vitamin D Day

I was doing research about Vitamin D to find something to write about this week, and guess what I learned? November 2nd is “World Vitamin D Day” and November is “Vitamin D Awareness Month.” (The thing Google will find never ceases to amaze me) HOW PERFECT! The whole reason I started this blog was to share what I learned in my quest to raise my Vitamin D to a healthy level, and how tanning was the path I chose to make that happen. So you may ask what exactly does Vitamin D do? Well, there are plenty of studies a person can find with a simple Google Search. One thing I found particularly interesting was this graphic. this is just pointing out some of the research that has been done. I have found numerous articles with other claims of the benefits. Just yesterday this article talks about one of the dangers of a low Vitamin D level.,0,1751973.story. So I think it is safe to say Vitamin D deficiency is something that should be avoided. So imagine my dismay that there is one study I found last week, that is getting circulation in the press trying to convince the public that it may not be necessary to get as much Vitamin D as originally thought.
It boggles my mind that there would be a suggestion that people generally get a sufficient amount. If that were true we wouldn't see an epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency. It is confusing and misleading to the public. Especially going into winter months where it is more difficult to get sufficient Vitamin D naturally from sunshine. I know this blog post seems to have “link overload” I just want my point to be that there is science behind a lot of the information about getting a Vitamin D level to a target range of at least 40-60 ng/ml. One more link about Vitamin D winter and how difficult it is to get to that target range during this time of the year in North America. Please check these out and educate yourself about this very important information.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunscreen every day, all the time? Yeah, I don't think so.

Recently I had to take my 11 year old daughter to the doctor for an immunization she needed. I haven't really had a family doctor in years, so we had to find a new one. I called my doctor for a recommendation. (She is an Internal Medicine Doctor, so she doesn't take young patients.) Her office is associated with another family practice office nearby, so that is where we decided to go. As a new patient, I had to fill out a book's worth of paperwork. That consisted of the normal information like insurance company, medical history, etc. The thing that I found interesting was in the medical history form. There was a section that dealt with habits and practices in every day life. For example, “Do you wear a seat belt?” and “Do you wear a helmet when riding a bicycle?” I can see how that would be information a doctor would want to know, so they can properly educate people about how important it is to use safety items such as that to protect themselves from potential injury. But there was another question on the form that irritated me. “Do you use sunscreen most of the time?” MOST OF THE TIME? Why would anyone NEED to use it MOST of the time? It blocks your skin from absorbing sunshine which is how the body produces Vitamin D. Sunscreen should be used when there is a risk of overexposure to the sun causing sunburn. It shouldn't be used more often than that. I very proudly checked the “NO” box next to the question. So when the extremely pale doctor came in to the examination room, I fully expected to be questioned on that answer. She did not bring it up, which I admit, I was disappointed about. I was all ready to strike down her claims about how the sun is evil. But it was not to be. It got me thinking though, about how that message of “wear sunscreen all the time, no matter what, even if you are not going to be in the sun at all” gets drilled into people. That message is wrong. First of all, you don't need sunblock for incidental exposure to the sun. Sunshine is natural, and an essential part of life; we need it. Secondly, WHAT are those chemicals we are slathering on our skin doing to us? Our skin absorbs that stuff and it blocks the one thing we NEED our skin to absorb. How can that be healthy? No wonder there is an epidemic of Vitamin D Deficiency now. We are told over and over again to use this stuff all the time. Sunshine and Vitamin D don't have a chance against the ad campaigns of sunscreen products and healthcare professionals. So let's think about this. Would you take antibiotics, or give your child antibiotics every day no matter what? No, you would take that/ give that only when it is needed. The same rule should apply to sunscreen. Yet we are told DAILY that we should never leave the house without that chemical sunscreen “protecting” us. Sunscreen is a product that should be used when necessary. The breakdown here is that the industry that promotes sunscreen, says it is always necessary. That isn't true. It is only needed/ necessary when there is potential for sunburn. Don't believe the propaganda. Sunblock hurts just as much as sunburn, just in a different (and more difficult way to prove) way.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Do Not Judge A Tanner By Their Color

Not all tanners can be judged by their appearance. Most people I talk to are surprised that I tan. I am very fair and by looking at me you would never know. My profile picture was taken at the height of my tanning “experiment” I was tanning every other day from anywhere between 12 and 18 minutes. Not the stereotypical image of a tanner. I am naturally fair skinned, tanning has not changed that. I do have tan lines, but very faint ones. If you were to compare my pictures before I started tanning in February 2012 and my profile picture taken in May 2012, you would really have to look closely to notice the difference. I have heard comments like “but you don't look like the people on Jersey Shore” and “you don't look tan” Part of the reason I wanted to share my story publicly is due to those comments. I want to dispel the myth that people who tan all have leathery skin and look older than they are. Yes, there are those that fit that image, but that is a small percentage. Patricia Krentcil (aka the tanning mom) is an EXTREME example of a tanner, she is giving the process and the industry bad press (as if there weren't enough of that from misleading information already). I know people who have tanned for years and they don't look leathery or old. Moderation is the key; just as it is with anything. We have all seen those people that go to the gym that are freakishly muscular, there are those that go overboard with plastic surgery, tattoos, piercings, etc. Tanning is no different. But what is the percentage of those that go overboard? Think about it, generally, when people see someone with an unconventional amount of tattoos or piercings or muscles, they don't think that is typical, they realize is it an extreme example. Yet, they look at someone with an UN-natural dark tan and think that is a prime example of a tanner. See for yourself what my tanning progression looked like.


 I am wearing make up on my face in both of these pictures, but as you can see, my chest and arms do not have a big contrast in color.

This was taken in August of 2012 after a 5k walk with my sister in law. I am not wearing ANY make up in this one.

So I guess what I am trying to say is that I don't look like what people expect of a typical tanner. But I am a typical tanner. The image the general public thinks of when they hear “indoor tanning” needs to change. It needs to reflect the majority, not the extremes.

Monday, October 15, 2012

"Fake Bake" Really? I can't stay silent on this.

Here is another one that I am SURE will not post my reply so I'd like to share it here.

Actual Link:

The Blog Post

Take a stand and don’t tan - The real truth about a “Fake Bake”

Special to The Quad
Published: Sunday, October 14, 2012
Updated: Sunday, October 14, 2012 20:10
Two-time melanoma survivor Michel Hoard was lured into a tanning salon based on the false advertisement of a safe and healthy tan. The man at the front desk assured her there was no cause for concern since, as he explained, tanning beds contain mostly UVA rays which are better for you because they reduce your risk of skin cancer. This is one of many tricks salon companies play on their often vulnerable and perhaps uninformed customers. After four years of tanning, Hoard entered stage one melanoma.

It is true that most tanning beds emit 94 percent UVA rays and six percent UVB rays, but that does not make their effects any less harmful. The goal of tanning companies is to lure their customers into the false comfort of this “fake bake” practice. They assure their customers of their safety and that they are out of harm’s way while leading victims into the threshold of the institutionalized cancer-causing solarium. Of those diagnosed with melanoma, “the average age is 46,” explains Dr. Roger Ceilley, former president of the American Academy of Dermatology. He continues: “it’s the most common cancer in people aged 25 to 29, in women 30-35, it’s second only to breast cancer.”

While melanoma, like any form of cancer, can never be prevented 100 percent, simply avoiding certain behaviors can drastically reduce the risk. Yet according to The Melanoma Foundation, “melanoma rates are increasing faster than nearly all other cancers.” If I may, allow me to provide a useful life lesson in one short phrase: it is your present actions, the things you do now, that will determine your fate in future. Remember that bad burn from two summers ago when your short dip in the pool turned into a two hour long swim and you spent the rest of the trip looking like a lobster? Despite the fact that your memory of this experience might now be comedic, your skin does not have a sense of humor and you can bet it still remembers the burn. In fact, your skin remembers every burn you have ever had since day one. The damage is there and will remain there long after the visible indicators have faded away. But the tanning salon doesn’t burn right? It is a common misconception is that if your skin simply darkens, it somehow has not suffered any damage. Exposure to UV rays will lead to some sort of dermatological change, and it’s damaging no matter the color.

Despite the fact that bad sunbathing habits are still practiced today, the harmful effects are now better understood, and are more commonly acknowledged. Unfortunately however, tanning has become an iconic symbol of beauty, and its effects can be deadly if not practiced with caution. The modern world has commercialized this process, turning machines that increase one’s risk of cancer into money makers. The best choice that you can make is to recognize that this desired luminous glow is really just damaged skin. Tanning salons are known world-wide to be cancer causers. Don’t wait for the consequences to become evident in your own life before taking action. Stand up for your skin and protect it by staying away from tanning beds. You can have fake nails and dyed hair. But a fake bake? – get real.

Laura Wayne is a  third-year student majoring in English with minors in Spanish and business and technical writing.  She can be reached at

My Response: 
Where do I start with this? There are MANY benefits to indoor tanning and you fail to understand them so let me try to enlighten you. While I sympathize with your example person, who was already a two time skin cancer survivor as you state. Could it be possible that this person is genetically prone to skin cancer just as some people are more likely to develop breast cancer or prostate cancer? That is absolutely a possibility that you decide to omit from your piece. I know people who have been tanning in salons for decades and they do NOT have skin cancer. They also have a higher vitamin D level than the majority of the population. Vitamin D is essential in preventing many diseases including cancer. Just some evidence listed in this article.

As for your comment here:
“Despite the fact that bad sunbathing habits are still practiced today, the harmful effects are now better understood, and are more commonly acknowledged. Unfortunately however, tanning has become an iconic symbol of beauty, and its effects can be deadly if not practiced with caution. “

Sunshine is the most effective and natural way for the body to produce Vitamin D. Tanning salons understand this and make sure you are tanning safely by regulating the time you are in a tanning bed based on your skin type and the type of bed you are using. They have limits on how long you are in there and how often you go.

“The best choice that you can make is to recognize that this desired luminous glow is really just damaged skin”

Not true. Tan skin is the body's natural defense against burning. Burning should be avoided at all times which is why I went to a salon to bring my Vitamin D level up. It is a controlled environment that provides a safe dose of UVA and UVB. I avoided the sun at all times and found myself to be severely deficient in Vitamin D. I went from a 11ng/ml to a 75 ng/ml Vitamin D level in two months by going to a salon. I tanned very conservatively (starting out with just 2 minutes per session) to encourage melanin production in my body. Something I couldn't do by just going out into the sun because I was so sensitive to it due to my avoidance for so many years. I now maintain my above average Vitamin D level by going to a salon once every 7-10 days for 15 minutes. There are good reasons people use tanning beds that are not just to “look good” That stereotype needs to stop.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Comment Denied

I came across this blog post (below) last week and posted a comment. The comment was "awaiting moderator approval" and then.... bupkis, the moderator did not approve it.  Apparently my counterpoints didn't sit well with the writer. I decided my hard work in attempting a conversation showing the positive side of tanning shouldn't go to waste. So I figured I would share it here. It would be a shame for my points to go unseen, now they don't have to. This may be something I do more if I find I come across more moderators unwilling to share an opposing view. Not that I blame them, it is their blog to do what they want and decide what to post, just like this blog will, no doubt, receive views opposing mine. I would like to have a dialogue here as long as the comments do not aim to insult or become hostile and please don't derail the post.

actual blog link-

Blog copied and pasted below:

Is There a Healthy Way to Tan?

Science has proven that UV exposure can lead to disfigurement, skin cancer, and even death. But the corporations that have a stake in this $4.9 billion industry are trying desperately to make everyone forget.
Much like Big Tobacco, the tanning industry is using techniques such as discounting the validity of the science behind skin cancer research, questioning the motives of dermatologists and oncologists, even taking aim at the American Cancer Society in order to cast aspersions on anyone critical of tanning beds.
And with more tanning salons in the United States than McDonald’s restaurants, it has never been easier for tanning bed manufacturers, trade publications, and salon chain operators to spread misinformation more quickly than ever.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, there are an average of 42 tanning salons in any given city. In comparison, the nationwide average for Starbucks caf├ęs is 19 and there are an average of 30 McDonald’s in each city in America.
To further its propaganda campaign, the tanning industry has also released a training program called “D-Angel Empowerment Training” that incorporates talking points and a video. Employees are encouraged to use this “information” outside the salon to argue in favor of tanning by claiming it is a good source of vitamin D, and thus “a bulwark against all manner of illness, including breast cancer, heart disease and autism.”
In addition to playing defense with its public image, the tanning industry has also copied some famously successful plays that Big Tobacco has made to undermine scientific research and fund advocacy groups serving the industry’s interests. Proponents of tanning have dubbed its critics the “Sun Scare Industry” and frequently refer to them as such in a disparaging manner.
While accusing the skincare and health experts of benefiting financially from the sale of sunscreens, the tanning industry also blames this group for a supposed “deadly epidemic of vitamin D deficiency.” (Nevermind that you can also get vitamin D from foods and nutritional supplements — more easily and safely than roasting under megawatt tanning bulbs.)
However, studies are now showing that those who eschew the harmful UV rays of a tanning bed might not actually be much better off if they elect a spray-tan option either.
A new study has found a chemical in spray tan that could possibly alter and damage DNA, according to an investigation by ABC News. Ten recent studies on the chemical, called dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, were reviewed by medical experts, however, the studies were only on cells in a lab and not in humans.
“These compounds in some cells could actually promote the development of cancers or malignancies,” Dr. Rey Panettieri, who is a lung specialist and toxicologist at the University of Pennsylvania, told ABC News. “And if that’s the case then we need to be wary of them.”
MyHealthNewsDaily reported that DHA is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for outside use only, meaning it shouldn’t be eaten, inhaled, put on the lips or used near the eyes. However, some tanning booths use spray tan that contains DHA, which has the potential to be inhaled if people aren’t given the right protective gear, ABC News reported.


I read this because of the headline. I thought this would be something showing that tanning isn't horrible death sentence of melanoma and disfigurement. That perhaps it would be unbiased and tell both sides of the story. You disappointed me and misinformed your readers. There IS a healthy way of tanning, and I have experienced it myself. If I didn't have the experience I had, I would run screaming to the underground world and only come outside at night after reading this.

I have a few issues with your claims and misleading information. Let's just start with your “comparison” of tanning salons and McDonald's.

~And with more tanning salons in the United States than McDonald’s restaurants, it has never been easier for tanning bed manufacturers, trade publications, and salon chain operators to spread misinformation more quickly than ever.~

You are comparing ONE fast food brand with the ENTIRE tanning industry in a city. How about you compare fairly? Tanning salons vs. Fast food. Not just McDonald's, include Burger King, Wendy's, In and Out Burger etc. I think you will find that tanning salons are not as prominent as you would like to lead your readers to believe. Come on, compare apples to apples.

~While accusing the skincare and health experts of benefiting financially from the sale of sunscreens, the tanning industry also blames this group for a supposed “deadly epidemic of vitamin D deficiency.” (Nevermind that you can also get vitamin D from foods and nutritional supplements — more easily and safely than roasting under megawatt tanning bulbs.) ~

2 things stand out to me here.
  1. Vitamin D deficiency is a very real problem and should not be taken so lightly. The vitamin D you can get from foods is very low compared to how much is needed. Take it from someone that had a dangerously low vitamin D level of 11ng/ml. My doctor prescribed 50k IU per week to address my deficiency. That's what doctors do... prescribe pills. Well, I couldn't take my pill at the same time as another daily pill I have to take for my thyroid, so I would consistently forget to take the vitamin D. I started doing research on Vitamin D and found I could get it from nature (sunlight). No wonder I was deficient. I am fair skinned and could not be in the sun for more than 10 minutes without burning. What to do? More research. I decided to try a more controlled environment, tanning salons. I started out VERY conservatively at the advice of the trained salon technician who gave me a survey type test to determine my skin type (I learned I am a fair skin type 2, had I been a skin type 1 I would have been turned away) I tanned for 2 minutes every other day. Working closely with the staff at the salon, I slowly brought up my time in 1 minute increments. I was able to develop a base tan (they exist and are the body’s natural defense against burns as it turns out) more importantly, I brought up my vitamin D level to a 75 ng/ml in just a few months. Let me highlight that particular point. I went from an 11ng/ml level to a 75 ng/ml in just a few months. The key here is to control the UV rays to avoid burning, that is what tanning salons do. I am now able to spend time in the sun with my kids without burning thanks to my tan.

  1. “Roasting under a megawatt tanning bulbs” is a completely false and misleading comment. Trying to scare your readers into believing that tanning bulbs somehow cook you is very irresponsible. Try cooking something, ANYTHING in a tanning bed. It won't happen. Do your research.

~To further its propaganda campaign, the tanning industry has also released a training program called “D-Angel Empowerment Training” that incorporates talking points and a video. Employees are encouraged to use this “information” outside the salon to argue in favor of tanning by claiming it is a good source of vitamin D, and thus “a bulwark against all manner of illness, including breast cancer, heart disease and autism.” ~

Vitamin D is essential in fighting disease. More and more studies are showing a link between diseases and Vitamin D deficiency. Here is just one example.

~However, studies are now showing that those who eschew the harmful UV rays of a tanning bed might not actually be much better off if they elect a spray-tan option either.~

You forgot to include in this piece to point out the harmful effects of chemical sunscreens. Something the cosmetic industry wants the public to use EVERYDAY no matter what. What is this stuff doing to our system? Show the whole picture. Here is just one article on how the mentality of sunscreen everyday no matter what is dangerous.

Monday, October 8, 2012


I've been seeing so many stories lately about how bad indoor sunbeds are for you. I disagree. I think people need to consider the benefits that can come from indoor tanning. For many people, the benefits of moderate indoor tanning outweighs the minimal risks. I am proof of tanning gone right, so I've decided to share my story.

In February of 2011 I had my annual medical check up. While discussing my health with my doctor, she asked if I had any idea what my vitamin D level was, and mentioned that there were many studies showing that vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an increased risk to many different health problems. I told her I had no idea what my level would be, so since I was having a blood test for my thyroid, we included testing my vitamin D level while we were at it. My results came back a few weeks later; I was at 11 ng/ml. Dangerously low. My doctor stated that vitamin D can be boosted by being in the sun, but “I don't think anyone should be in the sun ever” (this raised a red flag for me, the sun is an essential part of life, how can a doctor say no sun EVER?). So she prescribed a supplement. That's what doctors do, prescribe pills. She wanted me to take 50,000 IU per week. I had a once a week pill that I had to take. However, the problem was I couldn't take it at the same time as my thyroid medication. I'm not the type of person who remembers to take pills. I forget to take it, or I take it and I forget that I took it, or I forget to take it and I think I did. I can't keep track. I am terrible with pills. The only reason I remember my thyroid medication is because it is on my nightstand and it is the first thing I see in the morning, and it happens to be the first thing I have to do every morning. Then I have to wait for an hour before eating, and 4 hours before taking any other medication or supplement. So vitamin D was very easy to forget to take. I tried for months and forgot it more often than I remembered. I switched to lower dosage pills so as to take it every day instead of once a week thinking that would help -- it didn't. I'm hopeless with that sort of thing. I kept going back to what my doctor said...something about the sun... so I started doing some research. I can get vitamin D naturally from sunshine. Well, no wonder I was deficient. I am very fair and have always struggled with sunburns. I couldn't be outdoors for more than 10-15 minutes without burning. I had a terrible burn in my late teens where I had blisters and my face was swollen so much I couldn't open my eyes. After that burn I was even more sensitive to the sun. So for years I stayed indoors, sought out shade or wore hats to protect myself. Because I was always careful to avoid the sun, my vitamin D level was so low I had to take supplements to make up for it. That didn't seem right. I did more research and found that indoor tanning could be a viable option for me.

Late February 2012 I went to a nearby tanning salon. I spoke with Katherine and she gave me a questionnaire to fill out. The result of the questionnaire was that I was a skin type 2, but a very fair skin type 2 (had I been a skin type 1, I would have been turned away. Skin type 1 would mean I would burn and they couldn't help me). We decided to take the most conservative approach to tanning. I really wasn't looking for color -- my goal was to improve my vitamin D level. I tanned for 2 minutes every other day. After a week or so I increased my time by a minute. I wasn't burning. I continued to increase my time by a minute, sometimes two, each week. I was noticing a little color in my skin after a few weeks. After about a month and a half of tanning, I participated in a 5k walk at a local park. I walked in the sunshine for an hour without burning. I had developed a base tan that protected me from sunburn better than anything else I had ever tried. I felt a freedom that I never thought possible.

I had another doctor appointment in April of 2012 and my vitamin D level results were a dramatic 75 ng/ml! I had successfully brought up my level from dangerously low to well above average. I did not take supplements regularly before starting to tan, and I took no supplements once I did start tanning. I continued to tan every other day with increased times through mid May ending at 18 minutes every 3 days. I then shifted to a more maintenance type of schedule of 15 minutes once a week, which I currently stick to for the most part. There are times when I get a bit busy and can tan once every 10 days or 2 weeks, When I have a gap like that, I bring my time down to 12 minutes. All of this at the recommendation of the knowledgeable staff at the salon I go to.

By doing this “experiment” (for lack of a better word) I have found that I can do things outdoors that I could have never done before. I have enjoyed time by the pool with my family and neighbors this summer during the day for the first time. Years past I had to wait until night to gather with friends for fear that I wouldn't be able to find a spot in the shade or under an umbrella during the day. I have done at least one 5k walk per month for the last 5 months without burning. I can go to the park with my kids -- I can do things without fear of burning. So when I see stories about how tanning causes cancer and it is something only vain shallow people would seek out, I get angry that stories like mine are not out there for people to see. There is too much of a stigma around tanning beds and most of it is from exaggerated or even false information put out there. If done properly, tanning can be very beneficial for people like me.