Report Finds Tanning Salons Are Misleading Customers
February 2, 2012

Report Finds Tanning Salons Are Misleading Customers

A new congressional report accuses tanning salons of misleading their customers to try and gain business.

The probe found that tanning salons are downplaying the risks of tanning in beds, and promoting benefits that do not exist to its younger clients that do not know any better.

The investigation by the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee found that nearly all indoor tanning salons contacted denied the known risks of indoor tanning, and four out of five salons claimed it is beneficial to a person's health.

The committee posed as fair-skinned 16-year-old girls, contacting 300 indoor tanning salons throughout the U.S.

They found that 90 percent of the salons told the "girls" that indoor tanning did not pose health risks, and more than half the salons denied that indoor tanning increased the risk of cancer.

The report said that many salons described these statements as "rumors" and "hype", and over three-quarters of salons said it actually is beneficial to the health of a teenage girl.

"These blatantly false statements disregard the scientific evidence that demonstrates a 75 percent increase in the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, in those who have been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning," The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) said in a statement about the report.

"Over the years, dermatologists have heard anecdotal stories about the types of information that indoor tanning salons share with their customers," AAD said. "This report demonstrates that when asked direct, simple questions about the safety of indoor tanning, the industry willfully misleads potential customers, putting their health in jeopardy."

The organization said the potential customers are most often teenage girls, who are targeted by indoor tanning advertisements and are "vulnerable to pressure from their peers to be tan.

It said the Indoor Tanning Association (ITA) led an investigation that found that indoor tanning is safe and beneficial.  After this false report came out, there was a consent agreement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and ITA to prohibit from making misleading and false claims in its advertisements.

The World Health Organization grades indoor tanning beds as a "Group 1" carcinogen.  Other culprits in the "Group 1" category include tobacco smoke and arsenic.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer says the risk of melanoma increases by 75 percent when people begin using tanning beds before the age of 30.


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