Tanning Questions

New Media Producer: Brad Maglinger

Melanoma survivor Robin Lawrence-Broesch visits schools to warn students about the dangers of sun exposure. She was outraged when her own teenage daughter brought home the Castle High School student newspaper with a front page article about "Planet Beach," a new indoor tanning salon in Newburgh.

"It's almost endorsing them, like it's OK," says Robin. "You know, spring break or proms or tanning, it's OK, when it's not OK."

Robin really takes issue with a statement made by salon manager Kim Lis, who says Planet Beach is "more educational tanning rather than money-making tanning." Lis wouldn't talk to us, instead referring us to corporate headquarters.

"We do promote the use of sunscreen when you do go outdoors," says Planet Beach spokesperson Toni Vinterella. "When you do come into tan at a Planet Beach salon, you have to have a skin analysis and you're only put in for a certain exposure time and gradually work up."

"My reaction is hogwash!" exclaims dermatologist Dr. Jeffery Moore. He says it is all marketing rhetoric.

"To talk about safe tans or responsible tans, it's like talking about a responsible cigarette or a responsible way to drive drunk," Dr. Moore says. "I mean, there is no safe tan. That has to be understood."

"It's not such a dangerous, horrible thing such as drunk driving," responds Vinterella. She says tanning, like a glass of red wine, can have health benefits when used in moderation. The Planet Beach franchising corporation cites several examples:

  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Increased muscular strength
  • Lower resting heart rate
  • Increased resistance to stress
  • Increased cardiac output
  • Increased adrenaline in tissue
  • Lower blood cholesterol
  • Increased sex hormones

The book "The UV Advantage" by Dr. Michael Holick says UV exposure can help prevent cancers of the colon, prostate and breast.

"To try and fool yourself into thinking you're warding off colon cancer in exchange for developing malignant melanoma, I don't understand that trade-off there," questions Dr. Moore. "It doesn't make sense."

And he says it doesn't make sense to him to allow something so dangerous to make front page news of a high school newspaper.

Susan Korb, the newspaper advisor for Castle High School, says a student wrote the article simply to spotlight a new business in Newburgh, not to educate students about the pros and cons of tanning. In that case, she said it would have been a more balanced story.