Is The New Initiative By CDC Regarding Skin Cancer Prevention Doomed Already From The Start?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are right now collecting information from the public on preventing skin cancer through the reduction of UV exposure.
As you can see further below in the full text of the CDC announcement, just the simple assumption that reduction of UV exposure is the sole option for preventing skin cancer makes their initiative doomed to fail already before it has started.
To put even more emphasize on this pre-determined solution, a CDC sponsored research report about “Indoor Tanning Among Young Non-Hispanic White Females” has just been published (http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1729532#ild130138r1).
The survey “examined the prevalence of indoor tanning and frequent indoor tanning (≥10 times) using nationally representative data among non-Hispanic white female high school students and adults ages 18 to 34 years.”
And the result, which was blasted out yesterday in an extensive (and expensive) media campaign, was that a horrifying amount of “29.3% of non-Hispanic white high school girls use a tanning bed more than once a year, dramatically increasing their risk of developing skin cancer”.
The problem with the survey, in addition to that it sets a biased foundation for the CDC way of addressing the “public health problem of skin cancer”, is that it is based upon the assumption that UV exposure in general and especially from commercial indoor tanning drastically increases the risk of skin cancer.
The CDC sponsored report starts with the, by now so many times repeated that most people don’t even question it, anti-tanning mantra of: “Indoor tanning before age 35 years increases melanoma risk by 75%”.
My previous post “Is FDA’s Proposal To Increase Consumer Awareness Of Tanning Bed Risks Based Upon Facts Or Fiction?”, describes the origin of that anti-tanning myth and in the article “The Hidden Truth In Sun-Scare Statistics”, I have addressed the irregularities in another report (from Yale) to which the new CDC study also is referring.
The fact that CDC in this way is preparing their work shows that they are either grossly misled by the organizations (all sponsored by cosmetic- and pharmacy- companies) on the CDC’s Internet-page about skin cancer partner links (http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/links.htm) or being directly influenced by the beneficiaries of the campaigns of keeping people “in the dark” about the real role and use of UV exposure.
If CDC really wanted to find a solution to the apparent skin-cancer problem, there are three questions they should seek the answers to:
- Is there really an increase of skin-cancer or are we victims of an enormous amount of overdiagnoses driven by cancer- and cosmetic- industry-sponsored screening campaigns?
- What is the real (and not relative) statistical risk of getting a deadly skin-cancer from UV exposure in commercial sunbeds?
- What are the consequences (negative side-effects) of even further reducing exposure to UV light among people in general and youngsters especially?
Here are some references in which they can find the answers to the questions above:
“Overdiagnosis and Overtreatment in Cancer – An Opportunity for Improvement” (http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleID=1722196)
“Critique of the International Agency for Research on Cancer's meta-analyses of the association of sunbed use with risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3092569/)
“Tanning beds: What do the numbers really mean?” (http://healthjournalism.org/blog/2010/05/tanning-beds-what-do-the-numbers-really-mean/)
“Relationship between Sunbed Use and Melanoma Risk in a Large Case-Control Study in the United Kingdom” (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ijc.26347/abstract).
“Sunbeds and sunscreens – friends or foes?” (www.dnva.no/geomed/solarpdf/Nr_19_Moan.pdf)
In spite of what the CDC is trying to prove, here are the facts:
- The use of sunbeds has decreased during the last ten years (ask anyone in the indoor tanning business).
- The sale of sun-protection cosmetics has increased enormously during the last 40 years.
I believe it is Einstein that has been credited for this definition of insanity: “To do the same thing over and over again and expecting different results every time”.
The question is then:
According to that definition, aren't the people at the CDC who try to combat skin-cancer with more and more of the same, insane?
How long will they, a governmental organization, be able to rob us of what little sunshine we have left in a modern urban environment where the sunbed is a Nobel-prize worthy invention for improving public health.
A, seemingly obvious, better way to tackle skin-cancer would be to increase people’s awareness of how to use UV exposure, both from the natural sun and from sunbeds, in a measured way for optimal health benefits. This will not only address skin cancer but also most other diseases (thanks to vitamin D from UVB and Nitric Oxide from UVA) which is the task of CDC to prevent.
Just imagine if two non-burning session per week in a sunbed with low-pressure lamps with a reasonable high percentage of UVB (approximately like the summer-sun in Florida) could be enough to cut in half (like some vitamin D researchers say it can do) the risk of cancer (also skin cancer) and cardiovascular diseases?
Wouldn't that be at least worth a try? However, since it will then also lead to billions of dollars in lost income for the companies producing remedies for a steadily growing amount of cancer-victims, the only chance for such an approach to become reality is through the initiative by the Government. And, judging by the CDC initiative, their approach is not about to be changed any time soon.
Here is the original invitation from CDC. Don't forget to give your opinion on this post in the comments below:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announces the opening of a docket to obtain information from the public on preventing skin cancer through the reduction of UV exposure. The information obtained will be used for an anticipated Office of the Surgeon General response to the public health problem of skin cancer.
Scope of the problem: Skin cancer rates, including rates of melanoma, are increasing in the United States and worldwide. An estimated 3.7 million cases of basal and squamous cell carcinomas and about 60,000 cases of melanoma are diagnosed in the U.S. annually, with approximately 8,500 deaths from melanoma. Melanoma, which causes more deaths than other types of skin cancer, is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers among U.S. adolescents and young adults. Skin cancer also poses a significant economic burden in the U.S. The treatment of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer costs an estimated $1.7 billion each year, while costs due to low productivity are estimated to be $3.8 billion.
A majority of skin cancers are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or from indoor tanning devices, and are therefore preventable. Evidence clearly links exposure to UV radiation and a history of sunburn (indicating both intensity of UV exposure and skin sensitivity to radiation) to an increased risk of skin cancer. More than one-third of U.S. adults aged 18 and older report experiencing one or more sunburns in the past 12 months, and sunburn is even more common among younger adults. Indoor tanning is also common among adults, with the highest use among non-Hispanic white women aged 18-21 years (31.8%) and aged 22-25 years (29.6%). Among white adults who reported indoor tanning, 57.7% of women and 40.0% of men reported indoor tanning ≥10 times in the past 12 months. Among U.S. high school students, 13.3% have indoor tanned in the past 12 months, with much higher rates among girls and non-Hispanic whites. Furthermore, only 10.8% of U.S. high school students report wearing sunscreen with SPF of 15 or higher most of the time or always when outside for more than one hour on a sunny day.
Approach: HHS/CDC provides leadership for nationwide efforts to reduce illness and death caused by skin cancer, which is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. HHS/CDC also conducts surveillance of melanoma and skin cancer risk-related behaviors, conducts applied research and evaluation, and translates and disseminates evidence-based information on how to reduce the burden of skin cancer in the population. Consistent with these activities, HHS/CDC is assisting the Office of the Surgeon General in the Department of Health and Human Services with an anticipated response to the public health issue of skin cancer, including deadly melanoma. The intent of this activity is to identify opportunities and actions that can be taken by all levels of government, civic organizations, health care providers, educational institutions, worksites, industry, service providers, individuals and others to reduce exposure to UV radiation throughout the nation by raising awareness of proper sun protection practices, providing or allowing for use of shade structures, clothing, and sunscreens where appropriate, and changing social norms regarding tanning and having tanned skin. Expectations are that a review of the information collected will lead to the issuance of the Office of Surgeon General publication.
We invite comments and information on environmental or systems strategies; interventions that reduce exposure to UV radiation; and national-, state-, tribal-, territorial-, community-, organizational-, and individual-level actions.
Areas of focus: Use of sun protection is low, while excessive sun exposure, indoor tanning, and sunburn are common. HHS/CDC and the Office of the Surgeon General are interested in receiving information on the following topics:
(1) Barriers to reducing UV exposure from the sun and from indoor tanning devices, and;
(2) Evidence-based strategies to reduce UV exposure in the population by increasing the use of sun protection and reducing tanning behaviors.