The cosmetic dermatology’s powerful fear-based marketing message, which drives millions of customers into their offices, has helped grow their businesses by 320%. And the existence of the indoor tanning industry is competitive to dermatology’s multibillion-dollar phototherapy industry. Consider, according to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology:
- In 1993, 873,000 phototherapy sessions were delivered in dermatology offices in the U.S. By 1998, sessions had fallen off 94 percent to just 53,000.
- The cost of a single phototherapy session – which utilizes indoor tanning equipment in a dermatologist’s office – is nearly $100 per session, about 20 times more than an indoor tanning session. An estimated 1.5 million indoor tanning clients today successfully treat psoriasis in indoor tanning facilities.
- If tanning salons were closed, the cosmetic dermatology industry would gain up to $5 billion in phototherapy sessions which would be charged to health insurance companies and the Medicare system. (According to dermatology’s own reports, psoriasis patients average 35 sessions per year at an estimated average of $85 per session.)
The dermatology industry is in a hypocritical position when it comes to indoor tanning:
- According to the phototherapy industry’s own practices, dermatologists use sunburning dosages of UV light for the clinical treatment of psoriasis, a non-life threatening disease. If any UV exposure were as dangerous as a recent statement from the AAD claims, then dermatologists would be guilty of violating their Hippocratic oath for using UV in burning dosages to treat purely cosmetic skin conditions.
- Melanoma mortality is increasing in men over age 50, but dermatology is targeting its anti-sun campaign almost exclusively at women under age 50 – the group most likely to visit cosmetic dermatology practices for its services.
- The American Academy of Dermatology and other skin-care groups get much of their marketing budget directly from the chemical sunscreen industry. The AAD receives millions for putting endorsement logos on chemical sunscreen products – a much-criticized “pay for play” program.
Chemical Sunscreen Industry
Chemical sunscreen is mis-marketed as a daily use product – as a “fear-based purchase” – designed to be worn 365 days a year (in daily cosmetics for women) – which has turned chemical sunscreen into a $5-6 billion business controlled by a handful of major players. Sunscreen also block as much as 99% of vitamin D production. Consider:
- Sunscreen does not prevent melanoma, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which makes policy recommendations for the federal government, “The evidence is insufficient to recommend sunscreens for the prevention of skin cancer.”
- According to the independent Environmental Working Group – a consumer watchdog group that has analyzed hundreds of sunscreen ingredients, “Most sunscreen chemicals are far from innocuous. In sunlight, some release free radicals that can damage DNA and cells, promote skin aging and possibly raise risks for skin cancer. Some act like estrogen and may disrupt normal hormone signaling in the body. Others may build up in the body and the environment.”
- A 2008 Centers for Disease Control study showed that 97 percent of Americans have the sunscreen active ingredient oxybenzone in our urine. This ingredient has been linked to killing coral reefs, changing the gender in fish and potentially causing cancer.
- Chemical Sunscreen manufacturers are not allowed to advertise that chemical sunscreen prevents melanoma. So chemical sunscreen companies pay Dermatology groups millions of dollars to endorse their product and make that claim on their behalf. The AAD received an estimated $6-8 million in 2009 to help misbrand chemical sunscreen as a daily-use product.
- The Skin Cancer Foundation is a marketing front group organized by sunscreen manufacturers to create a “Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Approval” which appears on sunscreen products to convince consumers into thinking their products prevent melanoma, which they are not allowed to claim themselves. The SCF website says: “For adequate protection against melanoma, non-melanoma skin cancers and photo-aging, everyone over the age of six months should use sunscreen daily year-round, in any weather.”