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Researcher: Tanning Has Health Benefits

Friday, 28 October 2011 04:01 PM EDT

A Norwegian researcher has concluded that the health benefits of “controlled” exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning beds outweigh the risks because improved vitamin D generation might result in fewer cancers and other health problems.

Although the conclusion, based on an analysis of 30 years of health studies concerning sun and tanning bed exposure, was focused on the Norwegian population, medical researchers said it could just as easily be applied to the U.S. or other populations as well.

“Sun exposure is commonly supposed to be the main cause of {skin cancers} in most populations. However, the matter is disputed,” the researcher, Professor Johan Moan of the Royal Norwegian Academy of Science, declared in an article published in Public Health Nutrition Journal.

“The overall health benefit of an improved vitamin D status may be more important than the possibly increased (skin cancer) resulting from carefully increasing UV exposure,” said Moan.

Moan added that his finding that an increased level of vitamin D in the body actually “seems to protect against melanomas” is important to consider in the debate over the use of tanning beds as well.

He noted that “due to the fear of skin cancer” health authorities routinely warn against the use of tanning beds. He said that position “should be re-evaluated” because exposure to the ultraviolet light from tanning beds increases vitamin D, which also helps fight non-cancerous and infectious diseases.

The indoor tanning industry was quick to embrace Moan’s article. John Overstreet, executive director of the Indoor Tanning Association, said it “supports what many vitamin D researchers have said for years – that vitamin D generated by ultraviolet light, either from the sun or a sunbed, can be part of supporting good health.”

“We, of course, tell people that moderation is the key and urge them to always avoid over exposure or sunburns,” he added.

© HealthDay

Friday, 28 October 2011 04:01 PM
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