News and Trends

The Majority of Indoor Tanning Salons Deny Health Risks to Customers

Indoor TanningThe U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, Minority Staff (CEC-MS), has issued the results of an investigative report that reveals, among other things, that almost all tanning salons around the United States deny knowing the established risks of indoor tanning.

According to the report, “the vast majority of tanning salons contacted by Committee investigators provided false information about the serious risks of indoor tanning and made specious claims about the health benefits that indoor tanning provides.” Specifically, the CEC-MS found that 90% of salons provided inaccurate, misleading information about the specific threat of skin cancer tied to indoor tanning; more than half of salons (51%) denied a link between indoor tanning and skin cancer; and 78% of salons claimed that indoor tanning was beneficial for one’s health.

The CEC-MS also examined the salons’ compliance with FDA regulations and advertising/educational materials. The FDA recommends that indoor tanning be limited to no more than three visits in the first week, but nearly three-quarters of salons (74%) that were contacted said that they would allow first-time, fair-skinned teenage girls to tan daily, and four salon employees freely stated that their salons did not require 24-hour intervals between tanning sessions. In terms of marketing promotions, more than half of salons (52%) offered discounts to students or teens, and the use of homecoming, prom and back-to-school specials were common. Tanning salons also provided misleading information about the dangers on their websites and utilized social media like Facebook and Twitter to reach out to young girls, according to the CEC-MS.

For a copy of the full report, please visit

Dr. Wilma F. BergfeldDr. WIlma F. Bergfeld Receives Master Dermatologist Award

Dr. Wilma F. Bergfeld, MD, FACP, has received the Master Dermatologist Award from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). She will be formally recognized at the 70th Annual AAD Meeting in San Diego.

The Master Dermatologist Award recognizes an AAD member who has made significant contributions to dermatology and the AAD over his or her career, according to information from the AAD website. Dr. Bergfeld currently serves as a professor of dermatology and pathology at the Cleveland Clinic Educational Foundation, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Case Western Reserve University and director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Dermatopathology Fellowship. She calls the award a huge honor.

“I’m the first woman to receive this award, which is nice — I was the first woman president of the American Academy of Dermatology and now I’m the first woman to receive the dermatologist’s Master Award,” explains Dr. Bergfeld. “I cannot express how thrilled I am to be recognized in this manner.”

The recipient of the Master Dermatologist Award is nominated by the History Committee and approved by the Board of Directors, according to the AAD website. Dr. Bergfeld found out about the award when the AAD President, Ronald Moy, MD, called her to share the news.

“I was absolutely thrilled,” Dr. Bergfeld says. “To have peer recognition at this time in my life is fantastic. To be recognized for the work over your career is fantastic, because not everybody gets that recognition, and I just feel very privileged.”

Ellzey Coding Solutions Releases Web-based Version of Dermcoder Software

Ellzey Coding Solutions (ECS), the coding and billing company that specializes in dermatology-specific software, has announced the release of an Internet-based version of its DermCoder software.

The new application can be run on any web-enabled device, including PCs, Macs, iPhones, iPads and Android devices. The new application of the DermCoder software removes the extra steps of downloading and installing the software and needing to check for software updates. DermCoder Online will be available to customers with a current subscription at no charge, according to the company. The older, CD-based versions of DermCoder will be phased out over the next few months.

For more information, please visit


Additional Mechanism of Resistance to Vemurafenib Uncovered

ZelborafEarlier this month, the results of a study from UCLA researchers demonstrated, definitively, that the recently approved melanoma drug vemurafenib (Zelboraf) nearly doubles survival rates for metastatic melanoma patients. Now, another study from UCLA has uncovered a mechanism of resistance to vemurafenib: the mutated BRAF gene that drives the cancer becomes amplified as the cancer develops resistance to an inhibitor. Vemurafenib targets the mutated BRAF gene.

"Understanding and solving the problem of how cancer gets around targeted drugs is arguably one of the highest priorities in modern-day cancer medicine," explains the study's senior author, Dr. Roger Lo, an assistant professor of dermatology and molecular and medical pharmacology and a Jonsson Cancer Center scientist. "In this study, we found that in some patients, the cancer simply makes more of the target, the mutated BRAF gene, so that the drug dose becomes too weak to fight the cancer.”

Dr. Lo and colleagues examined three sets of samples from 20 patients: normal tissue, cancer tissue before treatment with vemurafenib and tissue that had initially responded to the BRAF inhibitor but had become resistant. The team utilized high-throughput DNA sequencing technology to examine the entire cancer exome to see what changes had occurred that may point to mechanisms of resistance. Among the 20 patients, one quarter (five out of 20, or 25%) showed increased copies of the mutated BRAF gene. Cell lines developed from melanoma patients also revealed pathways downstream of the amplified gene that could be blocked with inhibitors to fight resistance.

"For the first time, we were able to see in actual patient tissue samples how the cancer gets around this drug by altering the target," Dr. Lo explains. "It appears that the drug target is not only mutated and hyper-activated, but it's also massively over-produced in some cases of clinical relapse."

Also according to Dr. Lo, an experimental drug that inhibits mutated BRAF may also be effective against metastatic melanoma, but at a dose that does not result in significant side effects, which would enable practitioners to increase the dose when a relapse driven by BRAF amplification occurs. Dr. Lo’s team is now working to determine what is happening molecularly in every patient who relapses after therapy so that novel, combination drug strategies can be developed.

"If we know what happens in every relapse, we can have a plan in place that will help us avoid or overcome resistance," Dr. Lo says.

The study was also published in Clinical Cancer Research (

Increase in Allergy to Nickel May be Due to Healthier Diets

NickelNickel, the 24th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, was first recognized as a cause of contact dermatitis in the 1930s, and allergy to this element has increased in recent years. New research from the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University suggests that the healthy diets that are becoming increasingly common, which comprise many more whole grains, legumes, nuts and soy, may be to blame.

According to Dr. Matthew Zirwas, a dermatologist at Ohio State who has observed a gradual increase in nickel food allergies in recent years, the reason for this increase is “a shift in dietary habits. As people try to eat healthier, they’re actually eating more nickel.”

The major cutaneous symptom of nickel allergy is an itchy rash that can present anywhere on the body, most often occurring on the palms of the hands and the outside of the elbows. Fatigue, nausea and joint pain can also be the result of a food allergy to nickel. Dark chocolate, canned vegetables and fruits, shellfish, ground meat and some vitamins can also contain high levels of nickel.

While avoidance of foods that contain nickel is the key to clearance, Dr. Zirwas also suggests patients eat vitamin C with every meal because it will bind with the nickel and prevent absorption.

To read more about nickel allergy, please see last month’s Allergen Focus column:

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