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Tanning pills no substitute for sun.

If you've heeded our August warning about suntanning and tanning parlors, tanning tablets-often sold in tanning parlors-probably haven't tempted you. You may, however, have seen newspaper and magazine advertisements for these pills, sold under names such as Darker Tan, BronzGlo, or Orobronze.

Whatever the name, the product is the same. The pills contain canthaxanthin-a potentially dangerous chemical that resembles beta carotene, used in very small amounts to color foods. Although the FDA has approved canthaxanthin for use as a food colorant, the administration has not approved the substance as a tanning agent. By following the manufacturer's recommendation of three to four pills a day, one could consume as much as 24 times the amount of canthaxanthin found in a normal diet. The "tanning" effect results from deposition of the orange-brown material in, and just under, the skin. However, the material also ends up in many other parts of the body, where it may do grievous harm.

Blurred night vision, hepatitis, and allergic skin reactions are some of the reported effects. The most serious has been aplastic anemia, a life-threatening condition that requires immediate therapy, including blood transfusions.
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Title Annotation:canthaxanthin warning
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Oct 1, 1991
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