The Skin Cancer Foundation is filing a complaint against MTV for Heavily Promoting Tanning in Jersey Shore.
This means that the groundless war against tanning as one of our basic choices for a better health is heating up.
Yesterday, the Skin Cancer Foundation filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against MTV for heavily promoting tanning in the Jersey Shore Program. PR Newswire (http://s.tt/1yDki).
“While experts have long suspected a link between skin cancer and tanning beds, it was not until a few years ago that we had research studies definitively showing a connection. The fact is, tanning beds cause skin cancer.” said Perry Robins , MD, President and Founder of The Skin Cancer Foundation. “As the series progressed over the years, displays of tanning behaviors grew in frequency along with the cast’s influence over viewers, to the point where the expression ‘Gym, Tan, Laundry’ became a national catchphrase. The repeated and ongoing references to tanning as a harmless activity are dangerous and hazardous to the public’s health.”
Well Dr. Robins, you are dead wrong when claiming that “tanning beds cause skin cancer” and I hope that MTV has the financial power and public clout to prove that to the FTC.
Before I dive into explaining what I know are the motives behind the FTC filing by the Skin Cancer Foundation and how they are similar to Lance Armstrong, let me make it totally clear that I in no way want to endorse the way of tanning as promoted by the stars in Jersey Shore. If you read my articles on The Tanning Blog and elsewhere you know that I am a promoter of tanning for health (with UV-exposure being the only natural way for us to get vitamin D) and not pushing to make the skin as dark as possible.
I am, however, even less enthusiastic over people and organizations who try to use scare-tactics, hidden behind a semi-official health disguise, for their commercial gains and, by doing so, denies us the single best way to a better life with less ailments.
The Skin Cancer Foundation is a private initiative and they describe themselves like this:
“Since its founding in 1979, The Skin Cancer Foundation has set the standard for educating the public and the medical profession about skin cancer, its prevention by means of sun protection, the need for early detection, and prompt, effective treatment. It is the only international organization devoted solely to combating the world’s most common cancer, now occurring at epidemic levels.”
However, if we look at the companies that are funding the Skin Cancer Foundation, we will find 69 corporate sponsors in the “Corporate Council”. Each one of them is contributing at least 10,000 USD yearly to the Foundation and all of them are in the business of making and selling some kind of sun-protection products or remedies for skin-related problems.
This means that all of the corporations in the “Corporate Council” are beneficiaries of the sun-scare which the Skin Cancer Foundation is promoting through their filing with the FTC.
In fact, there is an increase to “epidemic levels” only in the diagnosed cases of skin cancer and all of this increase is created by the Skin Cancer Foundation and their patrons themselves through the sponsoring of events like the “Melanoma Days”.
The truth is that more than 90% of the diagnosed skin cancer cases turn out not to be skin cancer at all. This is a clear indication of that the real purpose of such early detection campaigns is not to cure cancer but rather to recruit new customers for dermatologists’ clinics and for the promoters’ products.
As “proof” of that tanning beds cause skin-cancer, the filing refers to the same publications as all sun-scare promoters do, i.e. the decisions by IARC and various studies trying to prove the connection between tanning and skin-cancer.
I have since long been an advocate of having those “proof” tried in a court and now, if MTV has the guts (and money) to face up in FTC towards The Skin Cancer Foundation (and their supporters), this might become a reality.
It doesn’t take much effort to discover the real truth and purposes behind the anti-tanning campaign.
On my site www.tannersrights.com, I am presenting the full story behind the sun-scare. How it started, who initiated and pays for it and some of their employed lobbyists and commercially motivated scientists.
My research is often, by the people involved in the sun-scare and by those brainwashed by the anti-sunlight propaganda, being dubbed as a “Conspiration Theory”. But it is not. Everything in my “theory” are based upon facts.
The most important fact is that the people who claim that any tanning (under the real sun and in sunbeds) causes skin-cancer just can’t be right.
The evolutionary history of mankind proves that they are wrong. The human race was born under the sun and developed with the help of sunlight. If the sun-scare mafia was right, how come we are still here do have this debate? How could our ancestors, who spent most of their time in sunlight, survive and even thrive? How did all generations before ours manage without spending that many resources and much money on protecting them against sunshine? And sunbeds are just a way to help us get the evolutionary benefits from sunlight controlled at our will in any place, at any time and in any weather.
An organization within WHO has recently disqualified the type of studies that are used for trying to prove the connection between sunbeds and skin-cancer.
All of the studies trying to prove the connection between sunlight/sunbeds and skin-cancer are based upon so called “environmental studies”. This means studies which compare environmental observations of one group of people’s behavior and certain outcomes (often medical cases) with another group without those outcomes (the control group). Such studies are called “case-control studies”.
Wikipedia defines a case-control study like this:
“A case-control study is a type of study design used widely, often in epidemiology. It is a type of observational study in which two existing groups differing in outcome are identified and compared on the basis of some supposed causal attribute.”
Naturally (since it would be quite unethical to conduct, e.g., randomized controlled trials and try to trigger skin-cancer by burning people), studies that are trying to prove that outdoor and indoor tanning cause skin-cancer are case-control studies or meta-studies of several case-control studies.
Actually, and here is an interesting development in the tanning debate which can be used by MTV in their defense, the International Commission on Non-ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), the organization under WHO assigned to evaluate the importance of UV-exposure to our health, recently disqualified the usage of case-control studies by stating the following in a letter to the prominent vitamin D researcher William B. Grant:
“ … there is scientiﬁc agreement that ecological studies should not be the basis of recommendations to the public, since any observed associations are easily confounded and therefore potentially unreliable.” [Allinson et al., 2013]
To be completely accurate, the studies referred to in the letter from ICNIRP which includes this statement are studies that prove the health benefits of UV-exposure and not the adverse effects.
It should however, not be possible for an organization within WHO to apply different standards when it comes to deciding if tanning is good or if it’s bad.
In principle, I totally agree with the statement from INCIRP (but not with their application of double standards) and here is why …
Even seemingly scientifically made case-control studies can easily be tweaked to produce whatever result desired (or ordered by those who paid for the research). Such tweaks can be done in the selection of the cases/controls and by adding statistic parameters “correcting” the outcome to give a certain result. Both those methods are being commonly used in all studies I have seen which try to prove that any exposure to sunlight and sunbeds can give skin-cancer.
Therefore, when looking at a case-control study, it is much more relevant to look at the raw data, before any applied, “black-box” like, statistical corrections. Unfortunately most journalists do not do that. In fact, most journalists who write about a report from a sun-scare study don’t even look at the report itself. Instead they just re-publish the press-release from the organization which made the report.
Those press-releases are often heavily “spun” in order to exaggerate the rigged outcome of the study. They also tend to include citations from “authority figures” which even more exaggerates the dangers of tanning even if the citations have nothing to do with the study itself. One of the most appalling examples of PR-spinning is the press-release issued by the Mayo-clinic in connection with the “Report On Melanoma Among Young Women” in April 2012.
You can easily spot a PR-spin in a press-release if it uses relative figures instead of absolute. The “74% increase in risk of skin cancer if using sunbeds before the age of 30” (from the spun press-release after an IARC-report) is a typical and, unfortunately too frequently used, example of this.
Meta-studies are even easier to manipulate. You just select the case-control studies which should be included in the meta-study in order to give the desired (or requested) outcome.
Meta-studies were used by IARC when they made their fatal (for our health) decisions to classify UV-light in sunshine and from sunbeds as carcinogens. In those cases, the meta-studies actually included many case-control studies that showed no relationship between tanning and skin-cancer but the few that did show that tanning could increase the risk were weighted more heavily (which is another type of manipulation of meta-studies commonly used by the statisticians on the sun-scare lobby).
In fact, no one should accept any report from a meta-study without analyzing the underlying case-control studies. But, alas, no one bothers, at least not most journalists who, in any case, are commonly forced by their publishers to promote the anti-tanning message.
Another serious but more general flaw of case-control-studies is that no person is exactly like another except for just the special outcome which differ a person the “case-group” from a person in the “control-group.
Here is an example of what I mean, fetched from one of my other articles: “New, Made To Order, Meta-Analysis About Indoor Tanning And Skin-Cancer.”
A recent large case-control study in Europe [which, by the way, showed the influence from indoor tanning to be “statistically insignificant”] presents 13 risk-factors as possible contributors to non-melanoma and melanoma skin-cancers. The thing is that none of those 13 risk-factors are mutually exclusive.
For example, sunburn as a child, smoking (as an adult, one must assume) and sunny vacations were three of the 13 risk-factors in the large European study. But a person that has experienced sunburn as a child may also be a smoker as an adult and even a frequent traveler on sunny vacations.
Even if we were to limit the choice for each factor to two, 13 factors will give 8,192 combinations (2 to the power of 13). Taking into account that the people in the control group share the same possible combination of risk-factors, the total number of combined factors that should be compared in order to get a relevant result becomes 16,384. Obviously, and given this proof of how different people in the case-control studies are, such studies don’t prove anything (or rather, can be tailor-made to prove whatever).
Limiting the number of risk-factors included in a case-control study will of course not help because all other kinds of behavior are still present and influence the results even if they are not included in the study.
So what has all this to do with Lance Armstrongs doping as indicated in the title of this article?
Well, in this case, the Skin Cancer Foundation and the sun-scare lobby are Lance Armstrong while defending his victories and bullying all opponents who were trying to tell the truth.
I am, by all means, not trying to compare myself with David Walsh of The Sunday Times (the journalist who exposed Armstrongs doping and persistently pursued the issue for many years). But I sincerely believe that there soon will come a time when the enormous lie about potential dangers of moderate and regular use of sunbeds will be unveiled.
I have a long list of people, maybe not as famous as Lance Armstrong, but whose karma still could get a strong positive boost by “coming out” with the truth behind their efforts to scare us away from healthy tanning.