Monday, November 9, 2009

Letter to Local Health Clubs

Dear [name],

I am contacting [club name] to respectfully request the removal of all tanning beds from the Club. Both [my wife] and I are Melanoma cancer survivors and are involved in advocacy to help prevent the same occurrence in others through avoidance of high-risk exposures, early detection, and advocacy. It is the category of high-risk exposures that motivates our request of the Club.

As part of an article that I am writing for my blog on the dangers of tanning beds in health clubs, I requested Dr. Devere of the Oregon Health and Sciences University's Department of Dermatology to respond to tanning industry propaganda and she replied to me today with the following:

"My response to the tanning bed propaganda is that there is no such thing as a healthy tan. A tan is essentially damage to the skin. Every time the skin tans it induces damage at the level of the DNA, which requires repair. Most of the time the repair is done correctly and there is no problem. However, if the repair is done incorrectly, a mutation occurs in the DNA. This mutation is the first step in the development of skin cancer, which can show up years later. It is not only burning that causes mutations at a cellular level. 
A base tan does help prevent burning to some degree, but at a cost as described above. The other cost is premature skin aging. A better way to prevent burning is to wear adequate sun protection in the form of sunscreen of at least 30 SPF with UVB and UVA protection. Also, wearing protection clothing, hats and sunglasses. 
The WHO recently released a report that tanning beds increase the risk of melanoma. I have seen this myself in young patients with melanomas in areas that are unexpected (breast, buttock, and other areas that are exposed by tanning bed rays but not sun). I strongly advocate more regulation of the tanning bed industry, especially for minors. "

In addition, I went to the WebMD site and the following was the announcement by the WHO in late July 2009:

"The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced today that it has moved UV tanning beds to its highest cancer risk category – carcinogenic to humans”.

Based upon the research and the fact that [club name] is a "health" club; the dangers, or potential risk of danger, associated with tanning beds should lead all health clubs to remove this potential danger as soon as possible.

I appreciate your consideration and look forward to your reply. I also welcome personal dialogue with you regarding this topic.

Thank you,

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