The most successful “black marketing” campaign in the world?

In July 2009 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an Agency organized within UN’s World Health Organization (WHO), announced through The Lancet Oncology medical journal and press-releases, the “breaking news”  about the classification of ‘the use of UV-emitting tanning devices to Group 1, “carcinogenic to humans”’.

This announcement created a new wave of articles and reports in many newspapers, magazines, journals and TV-channels around the world.  Many of the articles and reports went far beyond the original source in the reporters’ eagerness to create a “sensation” from this “news”.  None of the reporters seem to have bothered to go beyond the press-release, but if they would have done that they would have discovered the following facts:

First – the decision is not built upon any new research but on a review from July 2006 of different researches made during 1990-and early 2000.  A closer look at the method of this review (a good starting point is this page: http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/iarcnews/2009/sunbeds_uvradiation.php) shows that it was conducted more or less like an Internet search among scientific papers and by using the key search-words “artificial UV” • “sunbeds” • “melanoma” • “skin cancer”.  It is therefore no surprise that the “review” came up with a lot of “evidence” for a strong correlation between those search-words. It is almost like a search with the key words “water” and “drowning” probably will yield a very strong correlation and evidence that water actually is the main cause of drowning and the conclusion that public access to swimming-pools therefore should be restricted.

Second – all research that reports any positive effects from UV-light (of which there are a lot with more and more added almost every week) were omitted from the review.

Third – “Solar radiation” is since long included in Group 1 of Carcinogenics. Just like alcoholic products and many other, more ‘”common'” substances than, for example, mustard gas. Therefore, logically, since the UV-radiation from the sun (at least the part that reaches the earth) and the emissions from the lamps in a sunbed are practically the same, UV-radiation from sunbeds should belong to the same group. Towards this background, the almost fanatic attacks on sunbeds alone (in combination of a blatant promotion of sun-protection- and sunless-lotions) seem a little bit out of context, especially since there is no real evidence to support such attacks.

Adele Green

Prof Adèle Green

Fourth – the Chairman of the International Agency for Research on Cancer Working Group on artificial ultraviolet (UV) light and skin cancer at the time the review was made, Prof Adèle Green from Australia, is sponsored by L'Oreal, the largest supplier to consumers of sunscreen-lotions and artificial tanning lotions in the world (See ref below and here:  [UPDATE: That page has since been removed].

This also explains the intensive and expensive PR about the “news” of the upgrading of sunbeds to Group 1 and the strong advice about usage of sunscreen and artificial tan products. Not even tobacco, which obviously doesn’t have any health benefits at all, has gotten this kind of negative PR, because in that case the big commercial interests are on the side of smokers.

Fifth WHO recommendations from 2005 have not been changed (which is natural because no new “evidence” has been brought forward in this case). *)

*) Update:  WHO recommendation on tanning beds has been changes since this post was written. In Fact sheet N°287,  Interim revision April 2010, they give recommendations built upon old and obviously fraudulent research sponsored by L'Oreal.  See more in this separate post.

Anyhow, all the above doesn't take away the strong negative impact of the latest PR-campaign against indoor tanning. The doctors and scientists who have found solid proof of that UV-light not only is healthy but also necessary, have no rich companies that can sponsor their PR, making the debate very one-sided.

Governmental bodies in most countries have been easily and heavily affected by the recommendations from WHO and the media-reports but haven't so far shown any tendencies to consider recent findings about the benefits of UV-light. (When will we, for example, see recommendations for regular blood-tests measuring Vitamin-D levels? To follow up the level of Vitamin-D is probably more important than following the level of cholesterol.)

The representatives for the tanning-industry and you, dear Tanners, must take every opportunity to urge representatives for mass-media to take their responsibility not to blindly report a one-sided view on this issue. There are too many reports on the necessity of UV-light for most functions of the human body for those facts to be ignored. On the latitudes of Northern Europe (north of the latitude through Paris), humans just can’t get enough of Vitamin-D from the natural sun during most part of the year.With the strong evidence that the only relevant and safe source of Vitamin-D comes from UV-light,  the continuous campaign against indoor tanning is very counterproductive to common health.

We will reach a much better result and balance if we all work together to teach and promote that moderate, responsible and controlled (by professionals, not by governmental decrees) tanning is good and not bad.

REF.: Point: Sunscreen Use Is a Safe and Effective Approach to Skin Cancer Prevention

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2007;16(10):1921 – 2; Received 5/25/07; accepted 6/28/07.

Conflict of Interest: Adele C. Green currently receives funds from L’Oreal to run a research project and has research staff paid for by that company. She is also the co-author of several papers referred to in this article.

Requests for reprints: Adele C. Green, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Royal Brisbane Hospital Post Office, Brisbane, 4029, Queensland, Australia.

Phone: 61-7-3362-0234; Fax: 011-61-7-3845-3503. E-mail: [email protected]

Copyright D 2007 American Association for Cancer Research. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-07-0477

Monograph Working Group

Members

B Armstrong—Co-Chair (Australia), E Cardis—Co-Chair (Spain); A Green (Australia); D Krewski, R Mitchel, N Priest (Canada); L Tomašek (Czech Republic); K Baverstock (Finland); J-F Doré, J Hall, L Sabatier (France); M Sokolnikov (Russian Federation); M Hill, M Little, M Marshall, C Muirhead, A Riddell (UK); D Brenner [unable to attend], R Guilmette, D Hoel, D Richardson, R Ullrich (USA)

Conflicts of interest

NP works for, and RM is a consultant to, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. CM receives funding from the UK Ministry of Defence. JH receives funding from Electricité de France. AG receives funding from L'Oreal Recherche.

Invited Specialists

None

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21 Responses to The most successful “black marketing” campaign in the world?

  1. Polprav October 22, 2009 at 01:26 #

    Hello from Russia!
    Can I quote a post in your blog with the link to you?

  2. admin October 24, 2009 at 18:39 #

    Of course, that’s what it is for! Please spread the word!
    // The Guru

  3. Robin Eason February 6, 2010 at 21:46 #

    Dear Guru, I think I love you …
    At this moment I am composing a letter to dispute the IARC report and have been picking Dr. Grant’s brain for ideas.
    Some things you need to know, the time frame of the reports are from 1981-2005. And as you know these dates are important for at least 2 reasons: 1) because there have been many new discoveries since 2005 such as the benefits of Vitamin D against numerous internal cancers, bone diseases, nervous system diseases, etc., Vitamin D Deficiency, the research conduct by Dr. Fisher whereas tanning triggers the P53 gene which is important in deterring cancer even Melanoma. 2) because in the early 80’s sun lamps were used that were 100% UVB

    The countries the studies came from: 1 study was discarded, that left 22, 15 studies were from Europe, 4 from Scandinavian countries, 1 from Canada and only 2 from the US

    You addressed key words: “ever used” to indoor tanning appliances versus “never” was not strictly assessed, they used the information closest to this category.

    Skin type 1’s and those with heredity were not excluded from the study and once they are removed the increased risk factor becomes ZERO

    Thank you for your work.

  4. Brooke Morris June 18, 2010 at 04:52 #

    Bob Marley died of Melanoma right ?:”;

  5. admin June 18, 2010 at 07:26 #

    I have read so too! Started from his toe! And so did many millions other less famous people. But that is not the point. The point is that if we use the UVB rays, from the sun or from the tubes in a solarium, in the right way, without overdosing, they are probably the best all-round “medicine” for our bodies. The commercial driven fear-campaigns are focusing ONLY on the abuse of UV-light and with that approach, almost anything in our lives can be made out to be dangerous.
    // Goran

  6. Lauren Stewart June 20, 2010 at 10:32 #

    Sunblocks can also reduce the incidence of skin cancer by preventing UV to harm your skin.,~,

  7. admin June 20, 2010 at 21:18 #

    Yes, sunblock lotions are good for people who HAVE to be in the sun longer than safe for not burning. But they also block 99.5% of the possibility for the body to create Vitamin-D plus that the higher SPF-factor, the more dangerous chemicals among the ingredients.
    // Goran

  8. John Clark September 28, 2010 at 09:46 #

    skin cancer is rarer than colon cancer but just as deadly`:;

  9. admin October 5, 2010 at 08:02 #

    My message is that with higher level of Vitamin-D you can reduce the risk for all kind of cancers, also colon-cancer as well as skin-cancer.
    The commercially driven anti-tanning campaign has made most of the world’s population more Vitamin-D deficient than before.
    The anti-tanning campaign is also robbing us from the possibility to use indoor tanning and solarium as an alternative when the natural sun does not provide enough UVB-rays for the skin to create Vitamin-D.

  10. admin October 13, 2010 at 21:54 #

    !!!!! 50% correct – not bad!

  11. Headboard Light December 22, 2010 at 21:36 #

    well, skin cancer incidence would be increasing because of the hole on the ozone layer ,.:

  12. admin December 22, 2010 at 22:15 #

    Which hole? And where? This is another myth that was used in the beginning of the anti-sunlight campaign, especially in Australia and New Zealand. However, when systems and databases were created in order to measure and follow the changes of the ozone-layer in different parts of the world, it turned out that there were a lot of fluctuations. The layer over Australia and New Zealand has actually become thicker and not thinner. The so called “ozone-hole” refers only to a depletion in the layer above Antarctic, which has been more or less stable since its “discovery” 25 years ago.
    The interests of experts on “global warming” and the sun-protection industry goes in this case hand in hand.
    For more information about the ozone-layer and UVB radiation (which also can be used for finding when and where you can get Vitamin D from UVB from the sun), see http://www.temis.nl

  13. ignorance is bliss April 4, 2011 at 03:22 #

    This is exactly the kind of BS that makes ignorant people believe it. When you start using the words “research” and “studies have shown” it makes people think you are a credible source. this article is completely without merit. Yes, vitamin D is good for you, but there are alternatives to UV rays. For example, eating fatty fish, eggs, milk, and butter. There is no harm in that. There is however harm when you expose yourself to clearly carcinogenic rays. I should know, I just had a malignant melanoma mole removed. No history of cancer in my family, and I used to go tanning once a week or every other week for 9 years. These kinds of articles make me angry, and what makes me more angry are the ignorant people who believe them. Just because you want to tan and want to look good, it doesn’t mean you should ignore thousands of studies that show the harm of UV rays, and accept the very few that promote tanning, especially at salons. If you look at how those research studies were funded, you would see that they were either directly or indirectly funded by some sort of tanning associations. Read other articles and studies before you take this one to mean something. And you, Tanning Guru, you should be ashamed of yourself for promoting such deadly behavior.

  14. admin April 4, 2011 at 09:08 #

    Dear thisiscrap090976,

    Thank you for your opinion. The question is which one of us is the ignorant? Did it ever occur to you that maybe you too is a victim for the campaign of increasing the number of melanoma cases? Did you ever get a second (or third) opinion before you let them put the scalpel in your skin?

    I suggest you download my report in order to see the full picture with statistics and have a look at this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_CrPZLbkE8.

    You are entitled to your opinion and I respect that. But before you ask me to be ashamed of mine, please check the facts behind the figures. Go read the source material behind the reports (which I have done) and you might get another picture.

  15. Sean Sloan June 25, 2012 at 20:16 #

    Thank you for your efforts to add balance to this discussion of healthy tanning vs. dangerous exposure to UV. We are with you: the whole story needs to be told!

  16. Jack Duncan August 2, 2016 at 11:15 #

    Do you know if the IARC recommendations from 2009 were ever updated or amended, or is this still their stance today?

  17. TheGuru August 2, 2016 at 19:08 #

    Never updated. Frequently referred to in most research.

  18. healthcare natural products August 29, 2016 at 21:33 #

    of course you r saying true..skin cancer are increasing due to the weakness of ozone layer..we have to take step for safety of humans..

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