Most Salons Lie About the Health Risks of Indoor Tanning Beds

A new congressional report from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce notes that physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics have already gone on record with their disapproval of children using tanning beds. But when congressional investigators contacted 300 tanning salons nationwide, they identified themselves as "fair-skinned teenage girls" and were told nothing about the physician warnings nor was there much talk about cancer. The report found that salons, well, lied:

  • 90 percent of salons stated that indoor tanning did not pose a health risk.
  • Four out of five (78 percent) of the tanning salons claimed that indoor tanning would be beneficial to the health of a fair-skinned teenage girl. Several salons even said that tanning would prevent cancer. Other health benefits claimed by tanning salons included: Vitamin D production, treatment of depression and low self-esteem, prevention of and treatment for arthritis, weight loss, prevention of osteoporosis, reduction of cellulite, "boost[ing] the immune system," sleeping better, treating lupus, and improving symptoms of fibromyalgia.
  • Salons used many approaches to downplay the health risks of indoor tanning. During their calls, Committee investigators representing themselves as fair-skinned teenage girls were told that young people are not at risk for developing skin cancer; that rising rates of skin cancer are linked to increased use of sunscreen; that government regulators had certified the safety of indoor tanning; and that "it's got to be safe, or else they wouldn't let us do it."

Read the full story at The Atlantic Wire.

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