The sunbed ban in Australia makes the SunSmart campaign become stupid.What’s going on down under in the country of Oz? The Aussies are banning sunbeds. Not only age-restrictions but a total ban on tanning beds. Only Brazil has until now adopted laws which forbid indoor tanning. The reasons for the sunbed ban in Australia are, according to the regional governments, that more and more people in Australia are being diagnosed with skin cancer and a ban will “save thousands of people every year from dying in skin cancer”. That statement might be not just a little exaggerated since the total number of people dying every year from skin cancer is about 1,200 (see the graphs HERE) In reality and given the very few people in Australia who use sunbeds, a tanning bed ban will mean no (zero, nil) reduction of the number of people dying in skin cancer. So the question is then, why this almost fanatic pogrom-like purge of indoor tanners in Australia? To answer that question, we have to look into the history of the “SunSmart” campaign. This will help us understand that the lawmakers in Australia are “barking up the wrong tree” in their efforts to save their electorate from skin cancer and also what motivates them to bark at all.
The “SunSmart” campaign, which started already in 1980, built upon two fundamental pillars:
- A thinning ozone-layer (caused by air-pollution) made sunshine stronger and potentially more dangerous, which was “proved” by the second pillar …
- An increasing number of people diagnosed with skin cancer.
- The thinning ozone-layer did not (and still does not) occur over populated areas of the world.
- The increase in diagnosed skin cancers was (and still is even more so) a result from overdiagnosis due to increased screening promotions.
Here are the facts and timeline which have lead up to the decision about sunbeds in Australia and in many other parts of the world, to deny us, and even outlaw access to, the healing power of UV-light.Judge for yourself if you find the facts plausible, or if you want to disregard them as just a sign of a paranoid conspiracy theory. In 1974 Nestlé becomes a 40% shareholder in L’Oréal after a share-swap with Liliane Bettencourt, the richest woman in the world who had inherited L’Oréal after her father, Eugène Schueller. In the five years between the transaction and the start of the “SunSmart” campaign in Australia, the marketing- and PR- strategists in Nestlé and L’Oréal laid out the plan for what was to become the largest PR-coup since Moses came down from his mountain carrying the two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments. However, while the Ten Commandments (at least the majority of them) contain some basically good and healthy rules to live after, the “SunSmart” campaign was to be based upon lies and deceptions which had the potential to make many people very sick. But it also had the potential to make the shareholders of Nestlé and L’Oréal a LOT of money. In 1979 Nestle and L’Oréal implemented the first phase of the “SunSmart” campaign. Together, they created the International Dermatological Research Centre (CIRD) (Recherché L’Oréal) placed in Sophia Antipolis in the south of France. Recherché L’Oréal was to provide the necessary scientific base for the “SunSmart” campaign by:
- Funding of research providing the statistics needed to prove that sunlight had become much more dangerous now than during the million years of the development of the human race.
- Finding new formulas for sun-protection in cosmetics.
How to make us believe that sunshine suddenly had become lethal?The obvious challenge for the marketing strategists in L’Oréal was to find a plausible reason for the increased dangers of sunlight. Without that, the new statistics of an increase in diagnoses of skin cancer would not that easily be believed. The solution was provided by the increased public awareness created by the global warming environmentalists during the end of the 1970-ies. A thinning ozone-layer would lead to decreased absorption of the invisible UV-rays in the sunshine and thus make the risk of sunburns higher. L’Oréal even funded a global network for the measuring of UV-irradiation (TEMIS). TEMIS should measure the amount of UV and issue warnings about the necessity of sun-protection.
The “Ozone-liar” and why Australia became the birth-place for “SunSmart”.Since the ozone-layer did not get thinner over Europe, the “SunSmart” campaign had to be inaugurated somewhere where the masses would believe in a reason for an increase in skin cancers. Australia was not only already known as the “country of sunburns” but also located relatively close to the “ozone hole” over Antarctica. The fact that the ozone hole only reached as far as to the latitude of 60° and that the most southern part of Australia is located almost two thousand kilometers further to the north, at the latitude of 43°, did not matter for the campaign. They still managed to make a thinning ozone-layer the culprit for the increased dangers of sunlight. Most people are not aware of this big lie. They still believe that there has been a significant change in the strength of sunlight during the last 50 years. The remarkable thing, which is another proof of the power of authority and marketing, is that the “ozone-lie” never was seen, not even when it was (and still is) used as an argument for the increase of diagnosed skin cancers in countries far away from any thinning of the ozone layer. Here is a video-animation by NASA showing the ozone-hole over the Antarctic in November during 1979 to 2014.
Meet the Australian Cave-woman who is driving the sunbed ban.Now, with a believable lie in place as the reason for the “SunSmart” campaign, research showing the frightening result from a stronger sun needed to be invented and added to the PR-stunt. Given the commercialization of scientific research by the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry, it was an easy task to find a medical establishment with researchers who didn’t mind to bend the science in the needed direction. Thus, professor Adèle Green, from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, became the first and foremost mercenary of the “Sun Smart” campaign. Nestlés and L’Oréals investment in professor Green has brought them tremendous yields. Her tailor-made research reports based upon the “ozone-lie”, have been pivotal not only to the initial “Sun Smart” campaign in Australia but also to the decisions in IARC (the International Agency for Research on Cancer) to classify sunlight and sunbeds as carcinogens in the most dangerous group (again, unfortunately, also there, without any caveat about dose). What is driving professor Green in her quest to ban tanning beds and making everyone to live underground or slather us with sun-protection cosmetics day and night? And furthermore her actions as the chairman of the UV-committee in IARC to block any initiatives in the WHO of renewed recommendations for UV-exposure. As an intelligent woman, she must by now be aware of the negative effects her research has brought upon the health, not only for her country folks, but also for the majority of people in the “developed world”. It is hard to believe that the money she receives from Recherché L’Oréal is the sole suppressor of that awareness.
The second pillar of the “Sun Smart” campaign – skyrocketing diagnoses of skin cancer.While the reason (the “ozone-lie”) to become “SunSmart” was being heavily communicated by the different Australian Cancer Councils to health authorities and to the public, Professor Green was preparing the proof of an alarming increase of skin cancer. It all came together in the “Slip-Slop-Slap” campaign launched by the Cancer Council Victoria in 1981. The purpose of the promotions, sponsored by the cancer-councils, was, in addition, to sell their branded sunscreen, to bring as many people as possible to screenings for skin cancer. For sure the campaign brought thousands of worried tanners to the screening clinics where, of course, many victims were diagnosed with skin cancer. Most of them, however, with only harmless skin-lesions being classified as skin cancers.2)3)4) As planned, the alarming statistics were used to further fuel the “SunSmart” campaigns.
The dermatologists’ dilemmaThe devilish strategy behind the screening campaigns builds upon basic human psychology. It gives at least two good reasons for a dermatologist to classify a skin-lesion as a cancer:
- Nobody wants to be blamed for NOT having discovered a real skin-cancer in time.
- The payments from insurance companies.
The influence of statistics on case-control studies.The overdiagnoses of skin cancer brings another positive (for the “SunSmart” people, that is) side-effect to the campaign. In most of the studies which prove the dangers of sunshine and sunbeds, the “cases” (i.e. people diagnosed with skin cancer) are picked from the official cancer registers. However, and even if the most qualified dermatologists estimate that at least 5 to 10 “false positives” are needed in order to catch one real case of malign melanoma, no adjustments for the overdiagnoses among the “cases” have been made in any of the studies presented so far. It is hard to fathom, but every one of the surveys trying the prove the dangers of sunbeds, are quite obviously “made to order” and their data have been rigged for the specific purpose of producing scary statistics. Alas, very few are actually bothering to read the full reports. Therefore, anecdotal evidence and press-messages become the main sources of information for law-making politicians.
The definition of insanityEinstein once defined insanity as “repeatedly doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. When will people and politicians wake up and see the insanity in the “SunSmart” campaign? The results after soon 35 years of “SunSmartness” are already visible in the statistics. More and more people use sunscreen (at least according to the sales figures of L’Oréal and their peers). More and more people are also staying out of the sunshine and away from sunbeds (indoor tanning has already for several years been almost extinct in Australia, where it never was common from the beginning). Still there is an increase in, not only the diagnoses, but also the mortality of skin cancer, and, unfortunately also in other cancers and diseases (for example Multiple Sclerosis). The only thing that has stayed more or less constant during the last 35 years, just like thousands of years before, is the sunshine itself (don’t believe in the ozone-lie!). How is it then possible for any logically and rationally thinking person to continue to blame the skin-cancer on too much sunshine and the use of sunbeds? And how is it possible for politicians, if caring about the health of their electorate, not to see the connection between a decreasing exposure to sunlight and the increase in all kinds of diseases? For how long will the “SunSmart”-scam be able to continue to pull more and more patients into the expensive “illness-maintenance” system, driving up the health care and health-insurance costs, not to speak about the personal suffering of all the “skin cancer survivors” and their relatives? Take a look at the graph below over the official skin cancer statistic in Australia and try to find any sign there that a sunbed ban will “save thousands of lives every year”. Or of any success at all from the soon 35 years of “SunSmart” efforts. (Hint: men are not the main users of tanning beds.)
It is also worth mentioning that there has never been made any research on how many of those who actually succumbs to malign melanoma in Australia really were sunbed users. For sure, there have been cases heavily and dramatically advertised in mass media, but never any real survey. A couple of such surveys were, however, made in Europe. They showed that the number of sunbed users among those dying from (and even only diagnosed with) skin cancer was “statistically insignificant”. Since a sunbed is just another way to get the much needed exposure to UV-light, and since sunbed users normally also are eager outdoor sun-seekers, it is of course impossible to isolate sunbeds as an individual source of skin cancer. With the decision to outlaw sunbeds, the governments in Australia are not only showing their political incompetence but also a fundamental disrespect for their electorate’s ability to choose which way they want to get their vitamin D and all the other health benefits from moderate exposure to UV-light. UPDATE! Just found one additional piece of statistics which emphasizes the futility of early screening campaigns. I do believe that the table below from WHO/IARC over incidences and mortality of melanoma in different parts of the world clearly shows the truth in the formula:
Early screening promotions -> more diagnosed cases -> more sun-fear -> higher mortality.(But the SunSmart promoters will probably say: “Look at the good situation in South-Central Asia, that is because they have no tanning beds there!”)
Some more examples of how L’Oréal and Nestlé benefit from the “SunSmart” campaign.In 1981 (just after the start of the “SunSmart” campaign but long before the increase in skin cancer diagnoses was spread all over the western world) L’Oréal and Nestlé together created the dermatology company Galderma. Thirty one years later, in 2012, the annual revenue of Galderma was 1.59 billion Euros. The treatment of one skin cancer patient with medicines from Galderma costs the tax- and insurance- payers about 10,000 Euro yearly. No wonder that you find Galderma as the main sponsor behind the early detection campaigns in the USA. Another L’Oréal company, La Roche-Posay, is the founder of “Euromelanoma”, the organisation promoting early skin cancer screenings in Europe. Just too bad that all those efforts and money don't save any more people from dying in malign melanoma today than 30 years ago, but rather the opposite.
Closing the conspiracy circleA conspiracy theory for the real reasons behind Australia’s fanatic “SunSmart” campaign and their ban of tanning beds, would not be complete without one more piece of information. You might think that 22.5 billion Euro in total sales by L’Oréal (much of it thanks to their sun-protection cosmetics) and 1.59 billion by Galderma, are impressive figures. But the pharmaceutical companies are the real winners of our, rather recently, adopted fear of sunlight and sunbeds. Obviously, with less healing UV-exposure, people get sicker and in greater need of medicines. One of the biggest of the “Big Pharma” companies is Sanofi with revenues during 2012 of 34.95 billion Euro (up 1.5 billion from 2011). Do you want to guess who is the largest individual owner of Sanofi? If you guessed L’Oréal, you was right. So, there you have it, the full story of why “SunSmart” and a sunbed ban are really really stupid ideas for our health and economy. But not for the owners of L’Oréal and Nestlé and all the cancer councils, research institutes, media-conglomerates and other organisations and individuals who are getting paid to fuel our fear of sunshine. References: