The "Hotel Melanoma" moniker is a metaphor for living with my particular brand of cancer. Except for those lucky few of us deemed "cured", all we cancer survivors are guests of one of the many, many branded hotels in the "Hotel Carcinoma" chain. We can check out any time we like, but we can never leave. Meanwhile, let's be livin' it up; and please support cancer education, prevention, and treatment research.

Tutu Brothers

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mercolanoma Rock

I’m old enough to remember ads like this and lately, thanks to the indoor tanning industry and its apostles, I’ve been experiencing a sense of, in the immortal words of Yogi Berra, “déjà vu all over again”.

There’s a self-appointed expert by the name of Dr. Joseph Mercola who claims that tanning bed use (in moderation) is not only a safe source of Vitamin D but also actually decreases one’s risk of melanoma. You just have to love capitalism and the First Amendment. But as consumers of all the health advice and opinions out there it behooves us to apply a little critical thinking and common sense in evaluating the credibility of the source of such information.

I spent a few minutes on Mercola’s website, which he touts as “The World’s #1 Natural Health Site”. I clicked on a link captioned “Why Trust Me” and learned that Mercola isn’t actually a medical doctor, he’s instead a graduate of the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine. (Gee I have a Juris Doctor degree from Stanford University, maybe I should call myself “Dr.” Rich?) I couldn’t quite tell from the biographic information on his site whether he still practices osteopathy, but he sure does sell a lot of “natural” products on his site. Including the “Mercola Vitality Home Tanning Bed” and “Dr. Mercola’s Natural Sunscreen With Green Tea”.

A week ago today I attended the Melanoma Research Foundation’s patient education symposium. The oncologist I’ve been seeing for nearly nine years now started his presentation on targeted therapy with ‘Melanoma 101’. Melanoma is the uncontrolled growth and division of melanocytes, the pigment cells in our bodies, caused by DNA damage. Exposure to UVA and UVB light rays, whether from natural sunlight or tanning beds, causes the mutation in the DNA of our melanocytes that may lead to melanoma.

A tan is not a sign of good health, it’s a sign you have damaged your skin. Trust me, I’m a living laboratory on this count, having spent way too much unprotected time in the great outdoors. And it’s a widely accepted fact that indoor tanning (which I’ve never done) increases your risk of melanoma by 75%. But please don’t get your online health and medical information about tanning from either “Dr.” Rich or a guy who sells home tanning beds. Rely instead on information on the websites of organizations like the American Academy of Dermatology, The Melanoma Research Foundation, and The National Cancer Institute who aren’t trying to sell you a product. Better yet, go see a board-certified dermatologist for a skin check and while you’re there ask her if she personally uses tanning beds or permits her kids to do so.

Just my personal, non-expert opinion, but I think I’ll listen to the oncologist and melanoma expert who’s trying to save my life, rather than to an osteopath who’s trying to sell me a ‘Mercolanoma’-incubating tanning bed over the internet. But be your own judge and come to your own opinion about the risks of tanning-- just please do it based on unbiased and credible sources.

I’ll leave you with a new version of Cream’s “Strange Brew”…

C’s a bitch of trouble in the tanning hue,
In its own bad time it hides out in you.
In you.
Now what you gonna do?
Strange brew -- killin' what's inside of you.

He's some kind of doctor selling goods to you.
If you don't watch out he’ll fool with you.
Yeah, you.
What kind of fool are you?
Strange brew -- killin' what's inside of you.

On Oz show in the daytime on cable tv,
It would make some sense for this doc to be
But then whose ox is gored?
Strange brew -- killin' what's inside of you.

Strange brew, strange brew, strange brew, strange brew.
Strange brew -- killin' what's inside of you.


  1. Love this! 'Strange brew'

  2. Double love from me. I've started to think of tans as giant scabs. SO pretty! ;)