Monday, March 23, 2015

Improper Propaganda


Recently I have seen an increase in anti-tanning messages circulating on line. I suppose with Spring and Prom season here, the “no UV is good UV” "Avoid any and all UV" and "There's no such thing as a safe/good tan" messages are being shouted and spewed once again with no regard for a balanced message of moderation. Here is an example of what I have seen:

The purpose of this is to shock and frighten people. But this information is misleading and inaccurate. The creator of this lie wants you as a reader to believe what they are saying without question. Where is the balanced message? The fact that this one in particular was posted on a major health insurance provider’s social media page makes it even more frustrating. The information in this is being considered by many who see it as true and fact due to that source. To me, that is an incredibly irresponsible post. Let’s look at what this says, versus reality.

"Melanoma kills 1 person each hour". I really don’t know where this particular statistic came from. I haven’t seen it used before.  It could be true 24 per day 365 days a year that’s about 8,700 people per year. But if you factor in the world’s population is over 7 billion, it gives a more accurate perspective on the whole picture. If the 1 million new cases per year they claim on this is accurate, it would seem that Melanoma, while it can be deadly, can be survivable, 1 million diagnosis, 8,700 deaths.  Statistics show that skin cancer affects about 3-4 percent of the population, and of that, Melanoma accounts for less than 1 percent. Those statistics do not grab your attention though do they? Saying Melanoma kills 8700 people a year isn’t as dramatic as saying it kills every hour.   That is not to say that Melanoma is not serious. I absolutely believe it is. I just don’t believe it can be blamed on responsible use of tanning beds.

This “informative” meme suggests that all Melanoma is linked only to tanning bed use. As if by simply staying out of tanning beds, we could eradicate Melanoma all together.  I think we can all agree that there are cases of skin cancer and Melanoma that have been found in people who have never set foot in a tanning salon. Not everyone who has skin cancer tans, not everyone who tans has skin cancer. They do not equate and should not be linked as often as they are. There are other risk factors that they fail to mention. People who have family history, or an unusually high number of moles, and very fair skin, are a few things that contribute to the likelihood of skin cancer. Not responsible sunbed use.

The claim that 15 minutes in a tanning bed is equivalent to a full day at the beach simply isn’t true. Sunbeds are 2-3 times more intense than the sun.  15 minutes would not equal a full day; there is no math that would make that equation work. Take into consideration that there are safety measures in a professional salon. There are maximum exposure times on every tanning bed level. There are also limits on how long and how often a person tans based on their own skin type.  The exposure limits are meant to give UV doses that are well under what would induce sunburn. The limits vary based on the customer’s skin type and what level bed they use, and takes into account where the customer is in a tanning regimen, or if that person has been tanning regularly for a period of time. For example:  You will not go in on your first visit and get in the highest level bed for the maximum allowed minutes for your skin type. Trained technicians would set your exposure times to gradually build up a tan. Salons want to help their customers tan safely. It would be counterproductive to not follow these safety measures.

So why is it so hard to just state facts about responsible UV exposure? Why can’t the message this insurance company promotes be that we should avoid sunburn and be smart about UV? Why are they promoting no UV at all instead of moderation? This irresponsible message is leading us to global epidemic rates of Vitamin D deficiency. People are scared to go out in the sun for fear of getting cancer. These lies are putting us at risk for health issues and diseases associated with Vitamin D deficiency.  It isn’t balanced, and those that follow their advice to avoid any and all UV, are in danger of over 100 other diseases, including cancer.  The simplest solution would be to promote a healthy approach of regular, moderate, non-burning UV exposure in some way. But instead they choose to use scare tactics, lies and misleading information to generate panic.

I think the thing that frustrates me the most is that this kind of propaganda circulates and is taken as the truth. Generally, I think very few people would look into this to fact check the claims it makes. I feel many people take this as so called “common knowledge” because the anti-tanning /anti-UV message has been drilled into our heads for so long.  I wish there were a bigger voice of reason to reach the masses. 


****Personal note to my readers, (and apparently there are a few, I have seen activity on this blog during my hiatus) thank you for sticking with me. I’m back and hope to continue posting to this blog regularly. My focus will shift at times as some content will be dealing with my daughter’s recent diagnosis of HLH.****

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