Tanning beds good for you. That’s what they used to say about cigarettes too.

Another industry linked to cancer-causing practices pulls a page out of the book of Big Tobacco.

Embattled tanning industry fights back, taking its cues from Big Tobacco

To sway public opinion, the [tanning] industry is drawing on its vast network of outlets; there are more tanning salons in the U.S. than there are McDonald’s restaurants. Some salon operators are putting trainees through a “D-Angel Empowerment Training” program that uses the video. It is intended to give employees talking points to use outside the salon to argue that tanning is a good source of vitamin D, and thus a bulwark against all manner of illness, including breast cancer, heart disease and autism.

The industry has also gone on the offensive with tactics that appear cribbed from Big Tobacco’s playbook to undermine scientific research and fund advocacy groups serving the industry’s interests.

Central to the industry’s message is the idea that tanning’s critics — such as dermatologists, sunscreen manufacturers and even charities like the American Cancer Society — are part of a profit-driven conspiracy. These critics are described as a “Sun Scare industry” that aims to frighten the public into avoiding all exposure to ultraviolet light. The tanning industry blames this group for causing what it calls a deadly epidemic of vitamin D deficiency, and tries to position itself as a more trustworthy source of information on tanning’s health effects.

Tip: @Tarbosaur (Brian Regal) on Twitter

I don’t see anti-tanning advocates telling people to avoid all exposure to UV light. I see a message that is reasonable. Yet, I also see parents freak out with questionable products like ultra-strong sunscreen and sun-blocking clothing. A “deadly epidemic” of Vitamin D? Really? Where’s the evidence for that? Tanning is a cosmetic thing, not a health thing. They are conflating the issue between safe exposure and turning the color of a baked potato. There is a huge difference between lying in a UV bed inside a building and spending time outside (when you are likely to be doing something other than just lying still). I’ll take my vitamin D in milk, without the risk of melanoma, thanks.

  3 comments for “Tanning beds good for you. That’s what they used to say about cigarettes too.

  1. Peebs
    August 23, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    Why do I have this awful feeling that this will be reported as medical science in the (UK) Daily Mail in the next few days.

    I’ll post the link when it appears.

  2. Jill
    August 24, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    I think I heard the reporter who wrote this piece being interviewed on KCCP radio yesterday. She spent the entire interview dodging the science in order to give equal time to “both sides.” She kept saying, “good question… I’m not sure….” and “well, according to industry groups…” I really miss independent journalism.

  3. Jill
    August 24, 2012 at 4:01 PM


    Spelled call letters wrong before. Sorry. It’s public radio, but the host lets the interviewee run the discussion. A wasted opportunity to inform the public on both counts.

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