Post By Bill Couzens, Founder Less Cancer

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Just Call Me Bob.

Tanning Beds: When perceived beauty and money over take human health.

By Bill Couzens, Founder Less Cancer

Bob is a nickname I earned many years ago from family and friends when I was on vacation in Bermuda. My daily routine was breakfast, “bob” in the ocean, lunch, “bob” in the ocean, then dinner and drinks. A perfect day.

Tanning for me was under the guise of swimming; exercise was fine, but tanning ruled. Honestly, who’s kidding who? It was all about the tan.

My trips to the sun over the last 30 years were often preempted by trips to the tanning booth where I could build a base so I would not burn when I got to my beach of choice. It seemed practical at the time, and a perfectly reasonable excuse for getting a head start on the process.

Crazy? YES!

While I still enjoy the sun, I have come to understand the benefits of moderation.

Recently I posted a video on the Less Cancer fan page of Facebook that generated a number of comments. It was called Tanning is Out Skin is In by the Melanoma Foundation of New England.

One comment the video received was from a fan of Dr. Mercola – who, also sells tanning beds. Dr. Mercola sells tanning beds with this pitch:

For lack of an effective, convenient solution, most people take the problem of Vitamin D Deficiency lying down. This accounts for the sad state of many people’s health. The dangers of low Vitamin D levels, such as depression, autism and even cancer, are just too serious to ignore.

The beds are endorsed by a nonprofit that calls themselves the Vitamin D Council.

Scientists at the Vitamin D Council agree that both children and adults should have a Vitamin D level of 50 ng/ml all year-round. They recommend the use of any Mercola Tanning Systems as a safe and effective way to help you achieve natural levels of Vitamin D. The Council’s aim is to educate the public about Vitamin D deficiency and how to prevent it.

And while Dr. Mercola seems to make sense, my concern is for the escalating incidences of Melanoma.

A Look At The Science.

The Skin Cancer Foundation tells us that tan, whether you get it on the beach, in a bed, or through incidental exposure, is bad news any way you acquire it. Tans are caused by harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning lamps, and if you have one, you’ve sustained skin cell damage. No matter what you may hear at tanning salons, the cumulative damage caused by UV radiation can lead to premature skin aging (wrinkles, lax skin, brown spots, and more), as well as skin cancer.

Tanning machines emit dangerous ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and frequent tanners using new high-pressure sunlamps may receive as much as 12 times the annual ultraviolet radiation they would receive from regular sun exposure.

UV radiation is a proven human carcinogen, and is linked with a higher risk of all forms of skin cancer, including potentially deadly melanoma which is the most common form of cancer among young adults 25-29 years old. On average, indoor tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanomas than non-tanners. They are also 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma, the two most common skin cancers.

Recently I had the opportunity to discuss UV risks with Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, Md. Ph.D. A Less Cancer Board Member, Dr. Ronald Herberman was the founding director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) and the UPMC Cancer Center.

In 1968, Dr. Herberman was a senior investigator in the immunology branch of the National Cancer Institute where he organized a research program related to tumor and cellular immunology. In 1971 he became head of a newly established cellular and tumor immunology section in the laboratory of Cell Biology of the National Cancer Institute. During this period he had responsibility for a research program of several investigators related to studies in animal model systems and in patients with cancer, studying the cell mediated immune responses to tumors. As a result of this research, a new category of lymphocytes was discovered in Dr. Herberman’s laboratory and termed natural killer (NK) cells. Since then, much of Dr. Herberman’s research has been focused on the characterization of these natural effector cells and on their role in resistance to cancer growth.

Currently Dr Herberman is Chief Medical Officer for Intrexon Corp., which specializes in innovative approaches to immunotherapy for the treatment and prevention of cancer. Dr. Herberman is responsible for overall leadership of Intrexon’s expanding anti-cancer clinical programs and related regulatory affairs.

Dr. Herberman is particularly concerned that the incidence of melanoma is rising rapidly and that “burns from UV lights are central contributors to increased risk of melanoma.” He went on to say that although “low level exposure to UV light either from sun or tanning beds will help maintain levels of Vitamin D,one can readily eat vitamin D-containing foods or nutritional supplements without running the risk of over-exposure to UV. The particular danger is to avoid exposure that will lead to an actual burn because that has been shown to put people at risk many years later for malignant melanomas.”

Recently teens in Victoria, B.C., and its surrounding municipalities, will no longer be allowed to use tanning beds in the region.

In an 18-1 vote late Wednesday, the Capital Regional District council voted in favor of new regulations that will bar people under the age of 18 from using commercial tanning beds in the British Columbia capital and 12 surrounding municipalities on Vancouver Island.

Those who appear to be under the age of 25 must present proof of age identification to use the tanning beds at the about 40 licensed tanning salons in the region.

Underage customers and salon owners caught in violation could face fines ranging from $250 to $2,000. The bylaw aims to promote and protect the health of children and youth from a recognized carcinogen by restricting minors under the age of 18 years from the “use of ultraviolet (UV) emitting devices in public indoor tanning facilities—other than a physician’s office or medical clinic—for cosmetic purposes,” the council said in a release.

The headline here is that we as a culture often look the other way when it comes to money and beauty. “How could I feel so good, look so good, and be at risk for Cancer? Nah! Not me.”

The bottom line is that the longer we “bob” around on the issue – and ignore the clear risks and consequences, the more we are drowning ourselves, and our health, with our ignorance and pride.

We know that UV rays are cancer causing. It doesn’t matter the source, UV rays are a cancer risk.

For me if I want sun and wish to pump up my Vitamin D I take a walk in nature and am now mindful of protecting my skin.


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