Vitamin D

On August 19, 2015 By Andrew Hogg In Uncategorized

“Vitamin D sold here” says the cheeseboard outside the tanning salon. A gloriously healthy looking woman shows off her trim torso for all of us to gawp at in wonder. Gosh, maybe I need a dose of that. Vitamin D is good for us after all- strong bones and all that.

Gosh! Im rather healthy....

Gosh! Im rather healthy….

The one slight fly in the ointment of this fabulously conceited sun bed offering (other than the absence of a beach in the salon) is called skin cancer. Cancer Research UK and the British Association of Dermatologists don’t mince their words on this subject- sunbeds increase the risk of malignant melanoma by up to 75%. Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, claimed over 2000 deaths in the UK in 2012 and since the mid 1970’s has seen a remarkable seven and four fold increase in frequency for men and women respectively. Of the top ten most frequent cancers, melanoma has seen the largest growth in cases over this time period and it is mostly related to our sun-seeking habits, be it on the beaches of the Costa del Sol or the high street tanning booth.

Still, why let a little problem like the untimely death of your customers get in the way of making a healthy profit? The tobacco industry certainly never had such qualms, and where they led, the sunbed industry follows suit- research data not flattering your industry? Just cherry pick the results that suit your needs! Doctors lambasting your profession? Just plant a shill to try and discredit them! Your industry is losing credibility? Just manufacture a puppet lobbying group and focus on the positives! Hey, you might have skin cancer but at least you have a great tan! Every cloud……..

The most obvious question to ask in the face of this attack of verbal diarrhoea is why

Trust me- I'm a doctor...

Trust me- I’m a doctor…

this heinous practice hasn’t long since been put to bed? The answer is likely to be due to a variety of factors including the historical freedom to engage in unhealthy lifestyle choices, the relatively slow pace of the evidence against the industry and chiefly (I suspect) the relatively low numbers of people who die as a result of this slightly peculiar hobby. Approximately 100 of the two thousand or so melanoma deaths per year are attributed to sun bed use according to Cancer Research UK. If we compare this to lung cancer where 85% of the 35000 annual deaths are attributed to smoking, we can soon see why there is less interest in this as a public health issue.

If you have to get some vitamin D this summer, given the lack of evidence of the health benefits, might I suggest that tanning is not the way forward. Dermatologists advise that short periods of sun exposure without burning or the use of dietary supplementation should be adequate for most people.

Leave A Comment