NJ lawmaker to knock tanning beds during visit to Jersey Shore

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) will highlight the dangers of tanning beds when he visits a central New Jersey boardwalk on Thursday.

The event will "raise awareness of skin cancer" and promote sun safety, according to a release.

Speakers will include a dermatologist, a skin cancer survivor, and Dr. Fred Jacobs, the incoming chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society of New York and New Jersey.

Pallone, the ranking member of a congressional health subcommittee, released a report along with other Democrats in February slamming the indoor tanning industry for providing "false and misleading health information" to consumers.

The report found that salons regularly denied risks of tanning, such as skin and eye cancer, and permitted customers to tan more than is recommended by federal regulators.

It was prepared by Democratic staff on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

"Health risks are not being accurately relayed, while health benefits are being falsely claimed," Pallone said in a statement at the time. "Plain and simple, this is a public health issue that deserves the attention of our Committee."

Research reviewed and endorsed by the cancer arm of the World Health Organization in 2009 found that the risk of skin cancer jumps 75 percent in people who begin to use tanning beds before age 30.

That year, the International Agency for Research on Cancer placed tanning beds in the top cancer risk category, next to arsenic and mustard gas.

Tanning bed makers argue that no link between their products and deadly cancers has been proven.

James Oliver, CEO of Beach Bum Tanning and a volunteer member of the Indoor Tanning Association, pointed out that the Group-1 carcinogen list also includes "salted fish, Chinese-style" and birth control pills, which have been linked to increased risk of breast, cervical and liver cancers.

"There is no consensus among researchers about a link between melanoma and indoor tanning," he said.

Oliver also supplied a document criticizing studies of the issue.

U.S. cancer rates are falling, but medical experts believe that cases related to tanning beds are on the rise.

"I think this is a future epidemic in the making," said Dr. Marcus Plescia of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in March.

Pallone's event will take place at the Gazebo at Pier Village in Long Branch, N.J., at 11 a.m. Thursday.

— This story was updated on May 23rd to reflect Dr. Jacobs correct title.