Smart Tan on Tuesday responded to Atlantic City, New Jersey, columnist Richard Harkness, whose attack on indoor tanning as a reliable source of vitamin D forgot to include actual facts.
“We’re seeing this more and more,” said Smart Tan Vice President Joseph Levy, who authored the response. “Whether its a skin care lobbyist or, in this case, a medical advice columnist. Sometimes people are brainwashed so strongly against indoor tanning they don’t feel they actually have to check their facts. It’s embarrassing when they have to be corrected on some of the most simple things.”
Here is Smart Tan’s response to the story, which appears on the Press of Atlantic City’s web site:
Indoor tanning, when enjoyed in a non-burning fashion, is a perfectly fine way to maximize the benefits of natural, UV-induced vitamin D production while minimizing the risks that are associated with sunburn caused by UV overexposure. Richard Harkness’ syndicated column in the Atlantic City Press April 14 contains conspicuous errors about UV light and Vitamin D. Specifically:
- Harkness is dead wrong in mis-stating that “The sun’s UV (ultraviolet) light consists of UVB and UVA rays. Indoor tanning devices emit primarily UVA rays.” That’s completely inaccurate. Summer sunlight is most of America is approximately 95 percent UVA and 5 percent UVB, a mix that varies throughout the season and throughout the day. (The higher the sun is in the sky, the more UVB there is in the light.) Almost all indoor tanning equipment in North America emits light with this same type of natural mixture. Harkness is 100 percent wrong.
In fact, almost all indoor tanning devices emit as much vitamin D-producing UVB as summer sunlight, but unlike outdoor sun, do so in a measured fashion designed to prevent overexposure and sunburn. Keep in mind that tanning lamps were invented in Europe to harness the psychological and vitamin D-related physiological benefits of regular UVB exposure. And it works — indoor tanners have 90 percent higher vitamin D levels as compared to non-tanners, according to peer-reviewed research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
- UVB light is the body’s natural, intended most reliable and only free source of vitamin D. Harkness opinion that “a vitamin D supplement can make up for shortfalls in this important vitamin/hormone” is completely without basis. Humans make 90 percent of our vitamin D naturally from sun exposure to the skin – it is the way our biology was designed to manufacture “the sunshine vitamin” according to every reputable vitamin D expert. Dietary sources are a supplemental surrogate to this natural process at best – there is no data anywhere to suggest that humans can get enough vitamin D naturally through diet.
- Harkness repeats an old-school misconception about vitamin D when he says, “Vitamin D needs can be met with regular, brief periods of unprotected exposure to natural sunlight.” He’s using old-school low levels of vitamin D to make that statement. What he isn’t saying is that in the past few years hundreds of studies have revealed that significantly higher vitamin D levels are needed (they are in fact levels humans used to get naturally by living and working outdoors) and that these higher levels are related to a 50-70 percent decrease in overall cancer risk. That’s a result unprecedented in any other form of anti-cancer research.
And we know the mechanism that explains this relationship. We now know that vitamin D controls and regulates cell growth in most systems in the body – the “key” that scientists now recognize unlocks the sunshine vitamin’s relationship with lower cancer risk. But activation of this key requires vitamin D levels many times higher than current government guidelines — natural levels that are naturally consistent only with vitamin D levels of people who get regular UV exposure.
It is clear that the days of hiding from the sun are over, replaced by an era when we embrace sunlight responsibly. That means sunburn prevention as the bottom line. And that’s what the professional indoor tanning community has been teaching for more than a decade. It’s encouraging that the science is finally catching up with what responsible tanning enthusiasts have known for a long time.