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Indoor Tanning Beds Linked to Common Skin Cancers

Is It Time to Ban the Tan? continued...

Craig Devoe, MD, is in favor of a heftier tanning tax. He is an oncologist at the Center for Melanoma and Rare Skin Cancers at the North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, N.Y. There is a 10% tax on indoor tanning in the U.S.

“These cancers may not be lethal, but they can be disfiguring,” he says.

What’s more, the risks of indoor tanning should be covered in health education classes, much like smoking. “To get tan, the ultraviolet rays must cause damage to your DNA. This is how you get tan,” he says. “There is a lot of misinformation by tanning salons about so-called safe tanning and the health effects of vitamin D.”

Tanning Industry Responds

John Overstreet is the executive director of the Indoor Tanning Association, an industry trade group in Washington, D.C. He defends some of the benefits of indoor tanning, especially as it pertains to vitamin D exposure.

“It seems the risks continue to grab the headlines in the media, while the benefits remain unnoticed and unpromoted,” he says. “This paper is another example of continuing efforts to focus on risks.”

Basal and squamous cell skin cancers are rarely fatal and easily treated, he says.

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