In what some in Australia have hailed as a major victory for consumers, the country's tanning industry has for the first time admitted that tanning salons can damage the skin and cause cancer.
In the Federal Court Friday, Justice Ray Finkelstein ordered tanning franchises and the Australian Tanning Association publish notices in salons and on internet sites warning the public that tanning damages skin.
The move is also considered a win for supporters of Australian Clare Oliver, who died in September last year at the age of 26 after losing her long battle against cancer she said was caused by her visits to tanning salons.
Oliver spent the last months of her life campaigning against salons and warning the public against using them.
In July, the U.S. National Cancer Institute released a study that found cases of the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma, had risen 50 percent in young women over the past 24 years. Although the cause is not known, the cancer institute noted that the increased use of tanning salons should be studied as a potential factor.
In the wake of Oliver's death, and the storm of bad publicity that followed, the tanning industry made public statements and posted claims on Internet sites saying tanning was safe and it was a natural protection mechanism.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission took the association and tanning companies Body Bronze and Tropical Sun Industries to the Federal Court alleging the claims were false and misleading.
Finkelstein's ruling now requires the country's tanning industry to post the following warnings:
— There is medical or scientific evidence which links solarium use with an increased risk of skin cancer.
— Tanning does not materially protect the skin from sunburn.
— Skin damage caused by ultraviolent light may not be repaired by the body's skin repair mechanisms.
— Damage to the body caused by ultraviolent light exposure occurs without sunburn.