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Is the sunbed a Gianus Bifrons (two-headed god)?

Is the sunbed a Gianus Bifrons (two-headed god)?

Sunbeds, Good or bad?

Sunbeds may save lives.

Recent research comes to the conclusion that indoor tanning is a Gianus Bifrons,[1] which is interpreted as a two-headed god. One head, according to these researchers, is an increase in various skin cancers (a dubious claim). The other head is the ability of sunbeds to produce large quantities of vitamin D, increasing serum vitamin D concentrations up to two fold. In addition, this increase in vitamin D, they believe, could lead to a decrease in myriad diseases.

The authors of the paper state the following: “Therefore, some favorable effects [of tanning beds] against the risk of developing many human diseases, including non-skin cancers, cannot be excluded at first glance, although they may not be only linked to [higher] vitamin D status.” They also go on to suggest that more research should be performed to determine if the unfavorable effects of indoor tanning on skin cancers may be outweighed by the favorable benefits of amelioration of low vitamin D levels.

This research ignored many research studies showing that regular, non-burning sun exposure is protective against melanoma. In my upcoming book, Embrace the sun, about 14 different research studies are cited. All of these studies demonstrate a positive effect of sun exposure. There are also positive effects of sun exposure and sunbed exposure, beyond the ability to produce vitamin D. Nitric oxide (NO) is produced by both. NO is a vasodilator that lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease.

No increase in melanoma!

Perhaps the most important study to differentiate between the positive effects and negative effects of sunbed exposure is this one: A 20-year Swedish study demonstrated that women who used sunbeds were 23% less likely to die from any cause than women who did not use them.[2] This study also showed no increase in melanoma after the 20-year period.

So, what more do we need to know about the pros and cons of sunbed use?

Here are a few more positive effects of sunbeds on human health:

  • Sunbed use reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.[3]
  • Sunbed use strengthens bone.[4]
  • Sunbed use controls psoriasis and eczema.[5]
  • Sunbed use reduces chronic pain.[6], [7]
  • Sunbed use may help unborn children.[8]
  • Sunbed use reduces the risk of clots.[9]
  • Sunbed use is associated with lower breast-cancer risk.[10]
  • Sunbed use reduces the risk of death.[11]

[1] Giuseppe Lippi*, 1, Gianfranco Cervellin†, Elisa Danese. Indoor Tanning a Gianus Bifrons:

Vitamin D and Human Cancer. Advances in Clinical Chemistry 2017;20:1-16

[2] Lindqvist PG, Epstein E, Landin-Olsson M, Ingvar C, Nielsen K, Stenbeck M, Olsson H. Avoidance of sun exposure is a risk factor for all-cause mortality: results from the Melanoma in Southern Sweden cohort. J Intern Med. 2014 Jul;276(1):77-86.

[3] P.G. Lindqvist, H. Olsson, M. Landin-Olsson, Are active sun exposure habits related

to lowering risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus in women, a prospective cohort

study?, Diabetes Res. Clin. Pract. 90 (2010):109-114.

[4] Tangpricha V, Turner A, Spina C, Decastro S, Chen TC, Holick MF. Tanning is associated with optimal vitamin D status (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration) and higher bone mineral density. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80:1645-49.

[5] Radack KP, Farhangian ME, Anderson KL, Feldman SR. A review of the use of tanning beds as a dermatological treatment. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2015 Mar;5(1):37-51.

[6] Kaur M, Feldman SR, Liguori A, Fleischer AB Jr. Indoor tanning relieves pain. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2005 Oct;21(5):278.

[7] Taylor SL, Kaur M, LoSicco K, Willard J, Camacho F, O’Rourke KS, Feldman SR. Pilot study of the effect of ultraviolet light on pain and mood in fibromyalgia syndrome. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Jan;15(1):15-23.

[8]  Bukhari, M. Quoted in London Times April 27, 2008.

[9] Lindqvist PG, Epstein E, Olsson H. Does an active sun exposure habit lower the risk of venous thrombotic events? A D-lightful hypothesis. J Thromb Haemost. 2009 Apr;7(4):605-10.

[10] Yang L, Veierød MB, Löf M, Sandin S, Adami HO, Weiderpass E. Prospective study of UV exposure and cancer incidence among Swedish women. J Intern Med. 2014 Jul;276(1):77-86

[11] Lindqvist PG, Epstein E, Landin-Olsson M, Ingvar C, Nielsen K, Stenbeck M, Olsson H. Avoidance of sun exposure is a risk factor for all-cause mortality: results from the Melanoma in Southern Sweden cohort. J Intern Med. 2014 Jul;276(1):77-86.

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