Sun-Scare News – Tanning Addiction and High Levels of Vitamin D

Sun-Scare NEWS – Welcome to the first issue of the latest news and disclosures of sun-scare reports in media.

The Sun-scare lobbyists have had another busy week.

Watch the video below for a summary and read to the end of the article for another discovery of links between the sun-screen industry and a well-known sun-scare lobbyist.

Two major reports have been produced with sun-scare messages.

  1. How Tanning Changes The Brain (Article in New York Times about a study with a considerably less selling name: “Activation of the mesostriatal reward pathway with exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) vs. sham UVR in frequent tanners: a pilot study”)
  2. Skin Cancer Risk Rises as Levels of Vitamin D Climb, Researchers Suggest (first report in Bloomberg from the study: “Vitamin D and Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer in a Health Maintenance Organization Cohort”)

Sun-scare-report 1: How Tanning Changes The Brain

I will not go deeper into the first study. It might have been made with some good intentions. At least a brief search for any affiliations of the authors did not show any connections to the known founders of the sun-scare. The study is, however, a little bit ridiculous in itself. It starts with this statement:

“Frequent and excessive tanning persists despite a growing understanding of its associated morbidity and mortality, suggesting that ultraviolet radiation may impart rewarding effects beyond the assumed cosmetic benefits.”

The fact is that the only association tanning has on morbidity and mortality, is that it decreases the risk for them to happen sooner than later. However, I assume that was not the thing they had in mind for this study. If the starting point is that wrong, you can imagine the rest (and if you can’t, you can get the full 7-page report by clicking on the link above).

Like Smart Tan’s Joseph Levy commented to the blog-post in New York Times: “Humans are not addicted to UV exposure. We are ATTRACTED to UV exposure”.

I am sure that if they give a glass of water to a person dying of thirst in the desert or an oxygen-mask to a drowning person, the same changes in brain-waves will be registered.

This report might not be initiated directly by the sun-scare organization but only stimulated by the idea about tanning being dangerous established by WHO.

Sun-scare-report 2: Skin Cancer Risk Rises as Levels of Vitamin D Climb

The other report, about skin-cancer risk at higher Vitamin D levels, is an example of a classic sun-scare product.

The recipe for such reports is to combine (and twist) different statistics in order to get a result supporting the sun-scare message.

Apparently the sun-scare lobby feels threatened by the increasing awareness among people that maybe sunlight is not only bad and that maybe it is not very healthy to be covered up with sun-protection cosmetics 24/365?

The report from the study is written in a very plausible academic way, making it oozing of authority. And, as usual with sun-scare messages, media picks up only the information in the press-release distributed by the very effective PR-machine of the sun-scare lobby.

Boiled down to its basics, the study was made like this:

The records from 3223 white persons (2878 (89.3%) female and 345 (10.7%) male) who “sought osteoporosis or low-bone-density–related advice from 1997 to 2001” were co-related to a database of 3064 patients from the public Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) in the state of Michigan (i.e. Dermatologists practices) that were diagnosed with Non-Melanoma-Skin-Cancers (NMSC). It should be noted that Non-Melanoma-Skin-Cancers are highly curable (mortality close to 0 %) and does not have to be reported in the official cancer statistic. Therefore, the world record of 2 million highly subjective yearly incidences of NMSC in USA is an often used tool for the sun-scare propaganda.

240 persons (from the 3223 = 7.4%) were found having records in both the osteoporosis and the NMSC database.

So far the report is straight forward and easy to follow even for a layman in statistic theories. However, then comes an interesting twist. Instead of a just comparing the levels of vitamin D among those 240 persons, the study applies the probabilities for non-melanoma skin-cancer from the NMSC database of 3064 patients to those 240. Why? I can only guess that the real vitamin D levels among the 240 did not support the theory that should be proved.

Another interesting observation is that the level of serum 25-OHD above 15 ng/mL, was defined as “high” level and not above 30 ng/mL which I believe is the consensus definition among the real experts on vitamin D. It seems like many statistical manipulations had to be made in order to get the wanted result. I suppose it would have been jackpot for the sun-scare lobby if the 240 diagnosed NMSC-cases also were frequent indoor tanners. Taking into account that their average age was 65 year when the project started and 75 when it ended, the chance for that was probably quite small.

Some figures from this study, which were not presented in the media reports, could also be used by the defenders of vitamin D. From the 2878 white women who “sought osteoporosis or low-bone-density–related advice from 1997 to 2001”, 1990 (almost 70%) had serum 25-OHD below 30 ng/mL.

The face of a sun-scare lobbyist

Having been boring you with statistics maybe it is time to have a look at the people behind this report.

One name immediately stands out. Henry W. Lim, from Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, Michigan, is a recognized expert on dermatology, a frequent publisher and often referred to in media as the main specialist on advice about sunlight and skin.

A simple Google search for “Henry W. Lim” and L’Oreal, yields about 935 result. This is absolutely no proof of any affiliation, but an indication of how many times those two names are mentioned together on the same Internet page.

However, just clicking on the first result leads us to a page from American Colleague of Emergency Physicians where we can read the following:

“Dr. Lim said that he has been a consultant to La Roche-Posay L’Oreal, Clinuvel, and Procter & Gamble and has been an investigator for Clinuvel”.


Lim-L'Oréal Link 1

In case you didn’t know it, the companies referred to, are the largest manufacturers of sun-protection cosmetics in the world.

The next search result is even more revealing. It takes us to one of L’Oréals pages about sustainable development where it looks like L’Oréal is counting Dr. Lim as one of their “Talented employees”.


Lim-L'Oréal link 2

The question this arises is: Can we really trust the research and statements of Dr. Lim to be purely aimed for the best of public health? Or could it be that his work is influenced also by a dependence on funds from manufacturers of sun-protection cosmetics? For sure, judging from available statistics, the result of Dr. Lims work seems to benefit hugely the sales of sun-protection cosmetics and much less common health.

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