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Sunbed Industry Overlooked At NIWA UV Workshop

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Sunbed Industry Overlooked At NIWA UV Workshop

Indoor tanning/ sunbed business Get Brown Tanning hopes that a UV Workshop concluding today in Queenstown will give the New Zealand public a better understanding of ultraviolet light and its role in human health.

Hosted by NIWA (National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research), the workshop entitled "UV Radiation and its Effects: an update (2010)" ran over three days with fifty-odd talks on topics including UV environment, measurement, personal exposure, sunbeds, health effects, health policy and vitamin D.

Get Brown Tanning, a founding member of the INTANZ (Indoor Tanning Association of New Zealand) group, was not represented because it was not invited nor made aware of the event.

Tiffany Brown, Managing Director of Get Brown Tanning, said today, "The first we heard of this important Workshop was a few hours ago, when Kirsty Ethynes (INTANZ chairperson) contacted us, having just found out by accident herself. No-one in the indoor tanning industry was made aware of the Workshop. This is absolutely appalling, considering we are the people involved in the provision of ultraviolet light via indoor tanning equipment every day.

"While we are extremely disappointed to have missed out on the opportunity to attend the Workshop, we are also very hopeful that the outcome will be a further education for Kiwis about the vitamin D deficiency epidemic," Ms. Brown continues.

Vitamin D deficiency is a growing global problem. Leading vitamin D scholar Dr. John Cannell of the Vitamin D Council ( asserts current research implicates "vitamin D deficiency as a major factor in the pathology of of at least 17 varieties of cancer as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects, periodontal disease, and more."

A 2004 study on vitamin D levels in Christchurch residents concluded nearly 90% of participants were vitamin D deficient year-round.[1] In 2006 a study on vitamin D levels in pregnant women in New Zealand found again nearly all were vitamin D deficient, with nearly 70% being severely deficient.[2] Dietary supplementation is often recommended by the medical profession for those deficient or at risk of deficiency of vitamin D.

However Dr. Cannell, who is not affiliated with the indoor tanning industry, recommends "controlled sunlight is the safest form of vitamin D repletion." Ms. Brown refers to the indoor tanning equipment her business operates as exactly that.

"Controlled ultraviolet light devices, like our Sun Capsule stand-up tanning units, are not only used for cosmetic tanning, but also by many to boost their vitamin D levels.

With a moderate approach, we believe for many Kiwis who now tend to live their lives indoors or who are covered up with clothing and sunscreen when they are outside, controlled indoor UV exposure is really the best alternative."

There is no scientific evidence to support the implication that topical pharmaceutical sunscreen products can prevent users from developing skin cancer. Broad-spectrum sunblocks and sunscreens also effectively inhibit the formation of vitamin D.

It is the UVB wavelength in sunlight which stimulates vitamin D synthesis, so by blocking UVB rays the body cannot produce vitamin D in response to light exposure. Get Brown Tanning sees this as the main problem in terms of moving vitamin D education forward in New Zealand.

Tiffany Brown explains; "First, we were all told not to have any sun at all. Now they're revising that message, saying SOME sun is good for you. What they've forgotten to tell you is the vital point about sunscreen and vitamin D.

If you're in the habit of constant effective topical sunscreen application, all the sitting in the sun in the world won't help you to maintain the vitamin D levels you need to be healthy. "Good sunbed operators really do have something to say about the topic of vitamin D.

We can and we do help to teach people, but as far as the 'powers that be' are concerned, we're not heard, nor are we included. This latest Workshop exclusion is giving us a sense of dj vu back in 2008 we found out that a revision of the industry Standard guidelines (AS/NZS 2635:2002 Solaria for Cosmetic Purposes) was underway, without any representation from the New Zealand sunbed industry."

Ms. Brown is clearly frustrated. "As long as we're still in business, we'll keep doing what we do, and just keep hoping the right messages get through. The vitamin D issue is a huge and terrifying consequence of a decade of misinformed public health policy- and the demise of our industry is just another casualty."

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