European Sunlight Association

voice of the european indoor tanning industry

June 23rd, 2020

Brussels, 23rd of June 2020 – As national association representing tanning bed operators in Belgium having the objective to ensure quality and safety of indoor tanning to our customers, we feel the strong need to address publicly the recently made statements by the CD&V representative MP Leen Dierick concerning our industry. More specifically, we would hereby like to respond to the wrongful allegations made against the indoor tanning industry that are in our view, clearly based on false and outdated information.

The statement that ‘it is very clearly scientifically proven’ that indoor tanning is harmful is simply false given that so far most studies that have examined a potential correlation between skin cancer and sunbed use are based on outdated observational studies “demonstrating associations that are confounded by other known risk factors and do not demonstrate causation”. 1,2,3 Further, many studies on sunbed use in Europe still include results that were obtained before the introduction of the 0.3 W/m2 irradiation limit for sunbeds in 2007. Many studies also rely on data derived from the use of tanning equipment outside of professional tanning facilities, including equipment used at home and for medical purposes as well as data from other continents where the European irradiation limit has not been applied.

Additionally, as skin cancer with its different types is an extremely complex disease with many potential underlying causes, it is inappropriate to attribute one single factor to the development of skin cancer. Other strong factors that are disregarded besides personal daily habits, include genetic predisposition, smoking, skin type, nutrition, etc.

Importantly, moderate and responsible exposure to natural and artificial UV light has many health benefits which clearly outweigh the potential adverse effects. Health benefits include reduction of cardiovascular diseases risk through the release of nitric oxide in the skin. Further benefits worth noting are increases in serotonin and endorphin levels that can result in improvements in mood, energy, and sleep quality among others.

The most important factor however is the synthesis of vitamin D in the skin through a photosynthetic reaction triggered by exposure to UVB radiation. By controlling the calcium and phosphorus absorption in the intestine, vitamin D is essential for bone health. More importantly, it has been shown that low serum vitamin D levels are associated with an increased risk for specific cancers, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and cardiovascular disease, for example.4 Further, recently published studies also show a potential link between vitamin D deficiency and a higher risk for a more severe form of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses. 5,6

Having in mind the above, we remain committed to ensuring high level of consumer safety at our tanning salons be it through the code of good practice applicable to all our members or through continuous cooperation with the relevant authorities in Belgium. Therefore, we are very disappointed to see such false statements being spread to the public and even bringing our industry’s existence into question, which is why we will make sure our voice is heard and that facts are correctly communicated.

1 Burgard et al., Solarium Use and Risk for Malignant Melanoma: Meta-analysis and Evidence based Medicine Systematic Review.
2 Reichrath et al., A Critical Appraisal of the Recent Reports on Sunbeds from the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks and from the Word Health Organization.
3 Reichrath et al. Sunbeds and Melanoma Risk: Many Open Questions, Not Yet Time to Close the Debate.
4 Hoel et al. Sun Exposure Public Health Directives.
5 Biesalski. Vitamin D deficiency and co-morbidities in COVID-19 patients – A fatal relationship?
6 Martineau et al. Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data


Press contact and more information:

Mr. Huib van Heest

E-mail: H.vanheest@jk-nederland.nl

Tel: +31 6 206 22 810