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TANNING PILLS 'WILL NOT PROTECT SKIN FROM SUN' Cancer Society warning as product faces probe.

Byline: MAEVE QUIGLEY

THE Irish Cancer Society has warned against the dangers of using a brand of tanning pills widely available in chemist shops across the country.

Imedeen Tan Optimizer - supermodel Helena Christensen's image is used to promote it - claims to "prepare your skin for the sun, reduce sun sensitivity and redness and help protect against sun-induced ageing," as well as boosting your tan.

But the product to be investigated in the UK by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency at the request of Cancer Research UK.

The product costs EUR59.50 for a box of 60 one-a-day tablets but the vitamin-filled capsules have been slammed by the Irish Cancer Society who believe users might wrongly believe the Tan Optimizer will stop them burning on the beach.

A spokeswoman for the Irish Cancer Society said: "The Irish Cancer Society as part of its SunSmart campaign promotes the message that a tan is a sign of damaged skin and that there is no such thing as a safe tan.

"Tan Optimizer that claims to 'prepare the skin for the sun by promoting its own sun protection mechanism' does not offer protection from the sun's UV rays.They are not a sunscreen.

"This kind of product could lead people to take less care in the sun than they normally might and put themselves at higher risk of the development of skin cancer."

Sales of the Tan Optimizer have been very successful according to Danish manufacturer, Ferrosan A/S.

The product alleges it "prepares the skin for the sun by promoting its own sun protection mechanism." Ferrosan claims that interaction between the natural ingredients of palm fruit extract, lycopene, vitamin C and vitamin E increases the production of melanin, the pigment in the skin that protects the body from ultraviolet rays.

It is thought that thousands of women and teenagers have been taking the pills before and during their holidays this summer.

Every year there are more than 5,000 new cases of skin cancer in Ireland and doctors are warning Tan Optimizer users to make sure they wear sunscreen on the beach as well, as the tablet does not protect against the sun's harmful rays.

A spokeswoman for Ferrosan said: "We don't claim that this product will protect against cancer - the product is not misleading. We are claiming that it can help support the skin's own sun protection mechanism and can help protect against sun-induced skin ageing.

"These claims are backed up by published scientific research. All material clearly states that it does not replace the use of sun protection lotions."

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STAR: Helena Christensen in the advert
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 31, 2003
Words:438
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