Revenue from “melanoma-marketing” in the USA predicted to reach 5 billion USD by 2015.
The American Academy of Dermatology estimates that 1 of 50 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime by 2015. Their prolonged forecast is that 1 of every 5 American will become victims of skin cancer in their lifetime.
The headline “Revenue from melanoma marketing” is not entirely correct.
It is the cost to the society to care for the millions of skin cancer victims that are estimated to be 5 billion USD.
But since money doesn’t disappear into an empty void, wherever there is a cost for some, there must also be an income for others.
The big winners are companies and dermatologists providing remedies and care for the millions of newly created skin cancer survivors.
The big losers are tax- and insurance fee- payers like you and me.
Here is the 2020 prediction from the National Cancer Institute of the costs of melanoma skin-cancer:
To this should be added the costs for treatments of non-melanoma skin cancers which are even higher than the costs for melanoma and which have almost no “Last Phase”, only “Initial” and “Continuing”.
The question is – what is really driving this incredible high economic burden for society and all the resulting human suffering among the victims?
Dermatologists and cancer organisations blame the apparent skin cancer epidemic on sunshine and indoor tanning.
However, when using unbiased logic and common sense, this can’t be the truth.
The sun has been shining on us in approximately the same way for millions of years and only a very small percentage of people use indoor tanning. Sun avoidance and use of sun-protection cosmetics have become a common habit among the majority of the inhabitants in “developed” countries.
If something, the increased sun-awareness, people spending more time indoors and using more and more sunscreen cosmetics ought to decrease skin-cancer, not increase.
An historical look at the cost of skin-cancer (and thus income from melanoma marketing) can help to tell us which are the driving forces behind the skin-cancer costs.
40 years ago, before the start of melanoma marketing, the cost of skin cancer in the USA was only 10% of what they are today (in today’s value of money).
You can look at it as like the two first Phases (the “Initial” and the “Continuing”) in the image above didn’t exist.
To put it bluntly – 40 years ago people got diagnosed with malign melanoma and died shortly after their diagnoses.
Early diagnosis of melanoma improves the survival chances.
The motivation for the campaigns for early detection of skin-cancer (like the “Melanoma Awareness Month“) is that the possibility to identify a skin-cancer at an early stage, drastically increases the chances to cure the victim.
In theory this sounds good and is easy for politicians and the public to understand and support. In practice, however, it is the perfect recipe for “melanoma-marketing”.
All would have been good and well if the theory would have worked in practice and really reduced the number of people that get and succumbs to melanoma. But unfortunately it doesn’t. As you can see in the graph below even with more and more people being diagnosed with melanoma, the mortality does not decrease (the statistic is from the UK, but the situation is even worse in the USA and other countries).
Wasn’t it Albert Einstein that defined “insanity” as “doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result every time”?
Using that definition, it seems for sure that there is some insanity involved in the way health authorities tries to fight skin cancer.
The plain and undiluted fact is that all the energy spent on trying to curb the “melanoma epidemic” by the means of sun-scare, don’t have any positive influence at all, rather the opposite.
That is, it doesn’t work for the purpose of decreasing neither the incidences nor the mortality of skin-cancer. It works, however, very well for the purpose of “melanoma-marketing”.
To use Einstein’s definition again, it looks like the “receiving” side of melanoma marketing (i.e. L’Oréal) is very sane while the “payer” side (i.e. governments and the public) clearly match the definition of insanity.
In reality, the early detection screening programs, like the “melanoma awareness month” were never intended as a way to cure or even reduce skin-cancer. It is quite naïve to believe that Galderma and La Roche-Posay would sponsor campaigns that could reduce their profit.
The real purposes of the skin-cancer screening programs are instead:
- To produce scary statistics that can be used to fuel the fear of sunlight that is the main sales-argument for L’Oréal’s sun-protection cosmetics.
- To create a totally new market of “skin-cancer survivors” for Galderma’s products.
“The Baby Killer” strikes again
It is no coincidence that the melanoma marketing started just after the owner of L’Oréal, Liliane Bettencourt, in 1974 swapped a large chunk of her ownership towards a stake in Nestlé and Nestlé thus became the second largest owner in L’Oréal.
The “melanoma marketing”, follows the same blueprint as Nestlé used for their “Infant Formula” marketing.
In the fifties, sixties and seventies, Nestlé spent billions to convince the world that their “Infant Formula” was so much better than breast milk, especially for children in the third world. They used statistics produced by paid researchers to prove their case and paediatric organisations to distribute the information. For a while, they even managed, just like now with the “melanoma-marketing” campaign, to recruit the support of WHO.
In the eighties the public opposition towards Nestlé’s aggressive anti-breastfeeding campaign grew around the world. Movements like “Boycott Nestlé“, managed to change much of the public opinion and even the attitude from WHO back to natural mother’s milk as the best alternative for feeding newborn babies.
As you can see, the parallels between Nestlé’s marketing campaign for their “Infant Formula” and L’Oréal’s campaign to sell their sun-protection cosmetics follows exactly the same blueprint. Instead of paediatricians, dermatologists are used to produce the twisted statistics and political lobbying.
Unfortunately, the anti-sunlight campaign still has the full support from WHO and most national health authorities.
The only consumer group that has been directly negatively affected by this campaign is tanning teenagers (in some countries and some states in USA and Canada). And it is quite obvious that their reactions towards the limitations of their right to tan doesn’t carry neither the same power nor the same interest from the media as the indignation from breastfeeding mothers towards Nestlés attempts to substitute breast milk with a chemical formula.
Can vitamin D save us (not only from cancers but also from the lies being spread about sunlight)?
In fact, both outdoor and indoor tanning would have been on a clear path towards extinction if it wouldn’t have been for vitamin D.
As it turns out, the L’Oréal sponsored anti-tanning campaign is responsible for the largest health-issue in the world today, a widespread vitamin D deficiency.
This vitamin D deficiency, in its turn, is now proving to be the main reason for the increase of most cancers and common illnesses.
This has led to many doctors (and even some health authorities) starting to question the fanatic sun-avoidance advice from dermatologist- and cancer- organisations.
The damage done to people’s attitude towards sunlight is however severe. A whole generation has been brainwashed into the perception that exposure to sunshine and tanning beds is lethal.
The sun-scare campaign is ruthless, one-sided and leaves no leeway for moderation.
There is no doubt that like with so many other healthy and beneficial things in life, too much exposure to UV-light can be just as bad as too little.
But to say that any UV-light will cause skin-cancer is just as wrong as to say that any food will make you obese and will give you diabetes and cardiac arrest.
Just like we can’t be without food, we were not made to be without sun-exposure. It is too much of the wrong kind of food and UV-light that is bad for us.
Early detection is costly and doesn’t bring the desired result
The over-diagnosis of skin-cancer has been accepted as the best way of early detection. The problem is, as proved by the mortality statistics, that it doesn’t work.
In a recent report from a study made of 10 years of melanoma incisions from dermatologists clinics in 10 different countries, as many as 93 out of 100 incisions (simple biopsies for analysis not included) made on suspected melanoma were in reality made on benign skin-lesions that should not have motivated any removal if a correct analysis had been done.
Maybe it is the zeal to be on the safe side and nip a melanoma in its bud that motivates the dermatologists to create a new entry in the melanoma statistics even when they are not sure that it really is malign.
Or maybe it is the reward system set up by the sponsors of the early detection campaigns that is driving the melanoma “ticks” in the cancer-reporting forms.
It really would be wonderful if it would work for more than just a few lucky patients who get their melanoma detected in time for it to be treated.
But as the situation is today, the cruel question is if it really is worth 5 billion dollars for the society in a country to prolong the life of a handful of people. Especially since those 5 billion are lining the pockets of the sponsors of the campaigns that are responsible for the over-diagnosis and also destroys the life for millions of other people by feeding them lies about sun-exposure and making them vitamin D deficient.
Over-diagnosis of skin-cancer has become widely accepted even if there is clear proof of that it doesn’t work
One proof of that the huge over-diagnosis is commonly accepted in “developed” countries come in the report from a recent study comparing the difference between diagnosed melanoma and mortality in several countries.
In the study named “Melanoma incidence and mortality in Europe: new estimates, persistent disparities”, the authors (A.M. Forsea et al.) actually criticises Greece and Eastern European countries in their conclusions:
“The most recent estimates of melanoma incidence and mortality in Europe reveal sharp differences between European countries, possibly related to missed opportunities for early diagnosis and incomplete reporting of melanoma in Eastern Europe.”
Just like the economy in Greece is not bad enough without also spending millions of Euros on trying to discover something which most often is not even there.
Here is the statistic used in the research. A clearer visual proof of the uselessness of excessive diagnosis is hard to find.
What if …?
It is a relief that the failure-rate accepted by dermatologists in order to save a small amount of people from an early death by malign melanoma not is used in other industries. For example, it would probably not be very popular among passengers to the aviation companies if pilots needed to make 9 crash-landings for every successful one.
We can just hope that, just as in the case with Nestlé’s “Baby Killer” campaign, politicians and health authorities will finally open their eyes and see the “melanoma-marketing” for what it really is – a cleverly executed campaign using twisted statistics from spurious research in order to increase the sales of sun-protection cosmetics and remedies for skin-diseases.
Here is a timeline with the main events from L’Oréal’s and Nestlé’s “melanoma-marketing” campaign. Please note that L’Oréal is also the single largest owner in the pharmaceutical giant Sanofi. Sanofi is the third largest company in the world making medications for many different kinds of cancers. These are cancers that seem more and more likely to be caused by the vitamin D deficiency which is the side-effect of “melanoma-marketing”. Looks like a win-win situation for disease maintenance but a lose-lose situation for your health.
The timeline of “melanoma-marketing”
1973 L’Oréal buys Synthélabo and is today (after its merger with Sanofi-Aventis) the largest individual shareholder in Sanofi, the world’s third largest maker of cancer remedies.
1974 Nestle becomes second largest shareholder (after Liliane Bettencourt) in L’Oréal
1979 Nestle and L’Oréal create International Dermatological Research Centre (CIRD) (Recherché L’Oréal)
1980 “melanoma marketing” kicks off in France and Australia based on initial research and statistics financed by Recherché L’Oréal
1981 L’Oréal and Nestlé create Galderma
1982 The Skin Cancer Foundation in USA starts to finance research and clinical studies of skin-cancer with money from Galderma.
1985 Start of Melanoma awareness month in USA by the Skin Cancer Foundation. This accelerates the early detection program that fuels the melanoma-marketing with skin cancer incidences.
1989 L’Oréal purchase La Roche-Posay which is to spearhead their sales of sun-protection cosmetics.
1992 IARC (WHO) classifies Sunlight in Group 1, Carcinogenic to humans after having put heavy emphasis on two reports from research (Green and Riegel) funded by Recherché L’Oréal
1999 Kick off for Euromelanoma Days sponsored by La Roche-Posay and two other manufacturers of skin-disease remedies.
2003 L’Oréal finances the foundation of TEMIS to measure and issue warning reports of UV-levels
2004 the French Ministry of Health, Philippe Douste-Blazy (a protégé of the, at that time, French First Lady, Mme Bernadette Chirac, a close friend of Liliane Bettencourt) contacted the Director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), Dr Peter Boyle, raising a particular concern about the continuous increase in incidence of melanomas in France and in the world [in order to get tanning beds classified as Group 1 carcinogens]
2006 IARC creates a subgroup for investigating the carcinogenic effects of tanning beds. The groups Chairman (Adele Green) has her research funded by Recherché L’Oréal. The meta-analysis that is the base for the work, excludes several reports showing no increased risk and is in general much criticised by several real experts.
2009 IARC (WHO) classifies tanning beds in Group 1, Carcinogenic to humans
2011 Galderma’s makes 1.4 billion Euros from selling remedies for skin-cancer patients. L’Oréal’s net profit is more than 2.5 billion Euros from worldwide sales of more than 20.4 billion Euros.