Dermatologists were able to remove the so-called Botax from the Senate's health-care overhaul bill and replace it with a 10 percent tax on tanning services.
The American Medical Association had also opposed the proposed 5 percent tax on cosmetic procedures, dubbed the Botax after the anti-wrinkle product Botox.
There are an estimated 20,000 tanning salons in the U.S., mostly stand-alone shops, and it's impossible to know what total revenue figures are for the industry.
Dan Humiston, president of the Indoor Tanning Association, said that, "it's almost laughable" to think the tanning industry's revenue adds up to what Congress is projecting.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
This new tanning tax is unquestionably short sighted and counterproductive. Not only did dermatologists get the government not to tax Botox, they are instead going to tax HEALTHY tanning beds that are a vital source of vitamin D during the winter months.
It’s hard to imagine that these blatantly biased groups continue to have such influence over government agencies.
For starters, the tax on Botox was expected to generate an estimated $5.8 billion. If doctors and dermatologists were truly looking to tax a procedure that could cause harm, this would have been it, as Botox can cause respiratory failure and death.
Instead, the American Academy of Dermatology Association suggested removing the Botox tax and replacing it with a 10 percent tax on tanning services.
This tanning tax is only expected to generate about a quarter of a billion dollars over 10 years -- and this figure it likely a gross overestimate. Industry groups representing tanning salons say the proposal has overestimated tanning revenues by 40-50 percent. My point is that this new tax will likely not bring in the windfall its proponents are hoping for.
But the real travesty here is that this tanning tax is further propagating the myth that a healthy tan is a cancer risk, when in reality tanning during the winter months can help you prevent cancer, along with numerous other diseases.
Allow me to set the record straight.
A Tan is Natural Protection for Your Skin
Tanning is your body’s natural protection against sunburn; it’s what your body was created to do. Some physicians falsely refer to tanning as “skin damage,” but calling a tan “damage” isn’t telling the whole story.
In an apt analogy used by the Indoor Tanning Association (ITA), calling a tan “damaged skin” is much like saying that exercise “damages muscles.” When you exercise, you are actually tearing tiny muscle fibers in your body. At first glance, when examined at the micro-level, this tearing could be called “damage.” But this tissue breakdown is your body’s natural way of building stronger muscle tissue.
Similarly, tanning is your skin’s natural way of protecting you from the dangers of sunburn and further exposure. So, be it from the sun or from a safe indoor tanning device, avoiding sunburn is crucial.
It is the burning of your skin and chronic excessive exposures -- not the limited, sensible exposure to ultraviolet light or sunlight -- that increases your risk for skin cancer.
A Healthy Tan Will Actually Reduce Your Risk of Deadly Skin Cancer
Dermatologists and government agencies are quick to hold on to their mantra that sun exposure increases your risk of skin cancer.
But melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, is actually more common in people who work indoors than in those who work outdoors. Further, melanoma most commonly appears on parts of your body that do not receive regular exposure to sunlight -- and rarely occurs on your face.
Why would this be?
To understand, you first need to know the difference between the two primary types of UV rays from sunlight, the vitamin-D-producing UVB rays and the skin-damaging UVA light.
Both UVA and UVB can cause tanning and burning, although UVB does so far more rapidly. UVA, however, penetrates your skin more deeply than UVB, and may be a much more important factor in photoaging, wrinkles and skin cancers.
A recent study found that indoor workers may have increased rates of melanoma because they’re exposed to sunlight through windows, and only UVA light, unlike UVB, can pass through window glass.
At the same time, these indoor workers are missing out on exposure to the beneficial UVB rays, and have lower levels of vitamin D.
As you probably know by now, vitamin D is formed in your skin from exposure to sunlight. The sun, in turn, does increase genetic damage in your skin and can cause skin cancer, but nature has designed a clever system to help prevent this risk.
Dr. John Cannell, one of the leading authorities on vitamin D and founder and executive director of the Vitamin D Council, does an excellent job of explaining the system in this video but to give you a summary, when vitamin D is produced in your skin, it goes directly to the genes in your skin where it helps prevent the types of abnormalities that ultraviolet light causes.
To date, no well-designed studies support the connection between melanoma and UV exposure from tanning beds, while research continues to pour in that lack of sun exposure will virtually be guaranteed to increase your cancer risk.
A Lack of Vitamin D is a Major Risk Factor for Cancer
The production of the activated form of vitamin D is one of the most effective ways your body controls abnormal cell growth.
Several researchers, most notably Dr. William Grant, have published peer-reviewed articles demonstrating that in America, for example, increased sun exposure would result in 185,000 fewer annual cases of internal cancer and 30,000 fewer deaths from cancer of the breast, ovaries, colon, prostate, bladder, uterus, esophagus, rectum and stomach.
By comparison, about 7,500 people die each year from skin cancer.
However, many people, including many of you reading this right now, are essentially modern-day cavemen, spending the majority of the daylight hours indoors and away from healthy, vitamin-D-producing sunshine. Still others live in climates that are too cold for sun exposure for a many months out of the year.
The solution then, for many, to receive this health-promoting and vital vitamin D is to use a tanning bed! In fact, if you cannot get outdoors for natural sun exposure, my next top recommendation is to use a healthy tanning bed.
You Can Safely Tan Indoors
High-quality indoor tanning devices ARE SAFE if you precisely follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for exposure, posted on the label, as required by the FDA.
The FDA strictly controls the indoor tanning industry by setting standards for proper use of equipment -- they have endorsed indoor tanning devices as safe. All tanning equipment manufacturers must use the same set of guidelines so that UV exposure levels are standardized.
The FDA uses a unit called “one erythemal dose” as a means of calibration for the indoor tanning industry -- which is just a fancy word for one tanning session.
One erythemal dose equates to the amount of time it takes for a tanning device to produce erythema (slight pinkening of your skin), and this erythema indicates you have achieved a safe dose of UV -- which translates to an optimal dose of vitamin D.
One erythemal dose differs for each person based on skin type and strength of lamps -- just as a safe “dose” of sunshine differs for people based on their skin type, geographic location, and time of day.
The FDA also makes recommendations about how often you should receive a dose, stating you should wait 24-48 hours between doses. The reason for this is that it takes at least 24 hours for the erythema to go away.
The FDA’s exposure schedule can be described as CONTROLLED SUNSHINE, making it a very safe way to receive the benefits of the sun while indoors.
Choose a Tanning Bed with Electronic Ballasts Only
Aside from avoiding sunburn, the next most important fact you need to know to tan safely is how to avoid EMF exposure.
Most tanning equipment uses magnetic ballasts to generate light. These magnetic ballasts are well known sources of EMF fields that can contribute to cancer.
If you hear a loud buzzing noise while in a tanning bed, it has a magnetic ballast system.
I strongly recommend you avoid these types of beds and restrict your use of tanning beds to those that use electronic ballasts.
The Tanning Smear Campaign Will Likely Continue …
The tanning industry has become a marked target and been outrageously compared to carcinogens like arsenic and mustard gas. So you can expect the media to continue running stories designed to propagate further fear about sunlight and tanning.
However, you have at your disposal the search engine box at the top of every page on this site, which can help you locate more myth-busting information to review.
You can also read my book Dark Deception: Discover the Truth About the Benefits of Sunlight Exposure, which brings to light the myths about sunlight that government and big business continue to spread. (There is a free excerpt of Chapter One at the above link.)
You should know, too, that you can actually get vitamin D without significantly darkening your skin, since the UVB wavelength does not stimulate the melanin pigment that produces a tan. So if you’re interested in getting the benefits of vitamin D without a tan, I offer UV devices that do just that -- they emit the beneficial UVB but none of the UVA, so the tanning and skin aging side effects are eliminated.