Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sarah Palin’s tanning bed, part 3. Will the tanning bed kill her, or will the vitamin D save her life?

Sunlight exposure and tanning have been vilified by many (but not all) dermatologists some of who call them “cancer machines.” There are movements afoot to make it illegal for those under the age of 18 to even use them. Perhaps we will soon see the “sunlight police” patrolling the beaches and arresting those who do not wear sunscreens. Don’t laugh, it could happen. As I have already indicated in previous blogs, melanoma is the excuse for this madness, but melanoma is more common in those who stay out of the sunlight.

This is all woefully ill-advised. Hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved by maintaining high levels of vitamin D, which tanning beds produce in abundance. Every beneficial effect of vitamin D that is produced by sunlight (ultraviolet light or UVB) exposure is also produced by the use of high-quality tanning beds. And is it really UV light that causes melanoma? In my last “Sarah-Palin” blog, I presented evidence that as we have moved out of the sunlight by opting for indoor jobs, there has been an incredible 25-fold increase in melanoma. I also pointed out that 78% of melanomas occur on areas of the body that are seldom exposed to sunlight. What’s more, the risks associated with UV overexposure do not appear to be related to regular, non-burning exposure. Remember that the key to safe tanning of any kind is NEVER BURN. The following is a list of tanning-bed benefits:

1. Tanning-bed use dramatically increases serum-vitamin D levels and bone mass.[1]
2. Whereas a daily 400 IU vitamin D supplement does not maintain healthful levels, tanning bed use increases vitamin D levels by 150% in only seven weeks.[2]
3. Tanning-bed use reduces chronic pain.[3]
4. Sun lamps are now being recommended by at least one British physician for use by pregnant women who will give birth in a winter month. The recommendation is being made to protect the unborn child from osteoporosis during adulthood.[4]
5. High quality tanning beds, because they provide UVB to both sides of the body simultaneously, stimulate the production of up to 15,000 IU of vitamin D in less than ten minutes.[5] Ten minutes of tanning-bed exposure can be done on a lunch break. That means they are more efficient than summer sunlight. Of course, those with darker skin will require a longer time to produce the same amount of vitamin D.
6. Tanning beds may be used regardless of outside weather, time of day or time of year.
It appears that Sarah is on the right track. We will shortly present specific research regarding tanning beds and melanoma. You may be surprised. Stay tuned!

[1] Tangpricha, V. et al. Tanning is associated with optimal vitamin D status (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration) and higher bone mineral density. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80:1645-49.
[2] Holick, M. et al. Boston University. "Effects Of Vitamin D And Skin's Physiology Examined." Science Daily 21 February 2008 .
[3] Kaur, M. et al. Indoor tanning relieves pain. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed 2005;21:278.
[4] Bukhari, M. et al. 108. Sun Lamps help Unborn Babies Beat Osteoporosis. Quoted in London Times April 27, 2008.
[5] Grant, W. Personal communication with the author, June, 2006

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