The Quote: Twenty-five years ago this month the nation’s top dermatologist uttered now-infamous words that would drive their messaging underground - Smart Tan
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The Quote: Twenty-five years ago this month the nation’s top dermatologist uttered now-infamous words that would drive their messaging underground

Tuesday, November 9th, 2021

By Joseph Levy

Did she really just say that?

It was Nov. 13, 1996 – just two months after Smart Tan first gathered its membership in sunny Orlando to lay down a future vision of moderation and sunburn prevention as “Golden Rule” guiding principles for real-world sun care. Two months later and 1,000 miles to the north on a blustery fall day in New York City, the president of the American Academy of Dermatology was about to lay down a very different vision of the future.

It was AAD’s annual press day – a full morning to schmooze beauty industry reporters in a town easily recognized as the North American epicenter of the cosmeceutical industry. On this day, AAD would be introducing a new group – the National Coalition for Sun Safety – to help promote daily use of sunscreen as part of its double-down on total sun avoidance.

Smart Tan sent a reporter to the meeting. It was a good thing we did.

Dr. Wilma Bergfeld – an AAD past president with a lengthy list of career accomplishments and publications – was a co-moderator of the meeting. And she gave a 15-minute presentation titled, “Prevention and Reversal of Photoaging” – promoting a current update on cosmetic and prescription products designed for the prevention and reversal of photoaging.

She started out by bashing the sun like no one had ever done before.

“Sun avoidance is the best,” Bergfeld said. “In some vision as I grow older I see us moving to more shelters and perhaps underground living because of these hazards.”

Underground. She said we would be living underground – like a Ray Bradbury science fiction novel. But she wasn’t done.

“To put it in perspective,” Bergfeld added, “This (melanoma) epidemic is so severe that in the year 2012 malignant melanoma will be the leading cancer above breast and lung and colon, and may also be the leading cause of death all over the world, and of all skin types.”

There’s a lot there to unpack. Clearly, the world has not trended to basement living. And, 25 years later, there’s no reason to believe we will be doing so anytime soon. Of course, that’s somewhat subjective. But Bergfeld also made a prediction about cancer rates 16 years into the future – a fully objective and verifiable up-or-down statement – that we can now look back to score.

And as it turns out she failed. She wasn’t even close.

 

Click here to read the entire article in the latest issue of Smart Tan Magazine online.


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