(NaturalNews) The Indoor Tanning Association has launched an advertising campaign promoting ultraviolet (UV) exposure as a way to increase the body's production of vitamin D.
Vitamin D is naturally produced by the body upon exposure to the UV radiation from sunlight. The vitamin has long been known to play a critical role in bone health, and more recent research suggests that it may also help protect the body against cancer.
"Go get a tan. Your body will thank you," one television commercial in the campaign says.
The association's ad campaign is meant to challenge the perception that frequenting tanning salons may increase the risk of skin cancer.
"The dermatologists, the sunscreen and cosmetic industries have tried to say that somehow moderate tanning causes melanoma, which is just not true," Sarah Longwell of the Indoor Tanning Association said.
"While our campaign will be controversial, it's time people learned the truth about sun exposure," she said. "Not only is moderate tanning completely safe, more and more it's becoming just what the doctor ordered."
One study has found that people using a tanning bed three times per week for five weeks could increase their body's vitamin D levels by 150 percent.
Some health professionals have criticized the association's ad campaign as deceptive.
"The ad misrepresents scientific fact," said David Leffell of Yale Medical School. "Ultraviolet radiation from the sun and from the artificial bulbs that are used in the tanning parlors can lead to skin cancer."
But a recent study from the Institute for Cancer Research found that if people in northern latitudes doubled their sun exposure, 10 lives would be saved from preventing non-skin cancers for every fatal case of skin cancer.
Light-skinned people can get enough vitamin D from 15 minutes of sun on the face and hands each day, while it may take 30 minutes for those with darker skin.