UV Light is not a "Carcinogen"
UV Light Does Not Deserve the Blanket Label of 'Carcinogen'
The U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Toxicology Program in 2000 placed ultraviolet light on the federal government’s list of known human carcinogens. In July 2009 the World Health Organization wrote a brief report also declaring that UV light is a Class I carcinogen – a list that also includes red wine, birth control pills, salted fish and other highly used substances that, when experienced in their intended dosages, do not elevate cancer risk. Much like the NIH listing in 2000, WHO erred in not pointing out that the "list" doesn't mean a substance is dangerous in every-day dosages, but only potentially in "overexposure" situations.
- The listing does not mean that moderate tanning will cause skin cancer. The NIH listing criteria shows us why: "The Report does not present quantitative assessments of carcinogenic risk. Listing of substances in the Report, therefore, does not establish that such substances present carcinogenic risks to individuals in their daily lives." This exclusion – in the absence of any direct experimental research on indoor tanning and melanoma – makes this listing almost meaningless.
- The list does not take into account that there are positive effects to ultraviolet light exposure. Many forms of cancer – including breast, colon, prostate and ovarian tumors – now appear to be retarded or even prevented by regular exposure to ultraviolet light. This omission on the NTP list is conspicuous, given that positive effects are listed for other substances in the government's list of carcinogens that have positive effects, such as the breast cancer drug Tamoxifen, which is a Class I carcinogen.
- As a result, thousands of news reports suggest that "sun tanning is as dangerous as tobacco" – a blatant misrepresentation.
- Smoker’s risk of lung cancer: 15 percent – or 2,000 percent higher than that of non-smokers. Smoking introduces up to 60 man-made known carcinogens into the body – substances the body was never designed to process. Smoking is related to 1 in 3 cancer deaths.
- Tanner’s risk of melanoma: 0.3 percent – compared to 0.2 percent for non-tanners (a difference of 1 in 1,000) The body needs ultraviolet light to survive – calling it a carcinogen without that caveat is totally misleading.
- One thing we know for certain: You would be dead today if you did not receive any ultraviolet light.