Tanning story had dangerous misinformation

I wanted to contact you regarding, “Rays of hope for winter tanners” (Herald, Dec. 5). I am a local physician here in Durango, and I’m very disturbed by the story’s content. No local physicians were quoted or, to my knowledge, contacted for comment in this story that features prominent quotes and misinformation provided by an uneducated tanning salon employee who states (blatantly incorrectly) that “cancer is systemic meaning the cells already live inside your body” and, “the sun does not cause cancer,” and “risks of cancer are increased from burns ... cancer attacks vulnerable cells, and when skin burns it becomes vulnerable ... no one knows why people develop cancer and what causes it.”

All of these statements are false. I feel that the average Durango reader (let’s assume an eighth-grade reading level) could easily interpret this person to be an expert and take these statements as fact. Said reader could then develop potentially fatal skin cancer, and certainly premature skin aging resulting from using tanning beds. This is a gross disservice to the local community and is, frankly, dangerous.

As a physician who has the unfortunate job of telling local mothers, fathers, daughters and sons everyday that they have skin cancer, I feel it is imperative that I speak up for my patients and rebut the comments in the story. Tanning beds are no different than cigarettes, and it’s high time that the media portray them as they are. Would the Herald run a front-page story with a young adult smoking a pack of Camels entitled “Rays of hope for winter smokers?” I think not.

Lauren Loftis


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