You may wonder why sunbeds are banned in Australia but not other countries, including the UK. See what you make of the evidence.
There is an increasing drive to bring in stronger UK legislation, following pressure from individuals and from organisations at the forefront of cancer research.
Whilst skin cancer in general and melanoma in the UK are increasing, sunbeds are not entirely to blame. A greater cause is the sun itself and a long term increase in overseas holidays.
Questions still arise, when we are allowing an activity that you pay for to make matters worse. Using a sunbed before you go on holiday doesn’t protect against damage from the sun and can cause damage itself.
An accepted study found that the skin cancer risk from sunbeds may be more than double spending similar time in the Mediterranean sun. Neither do any relevant bodies suggest they are a good idea.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified sunbeds as a human carcinogenic. The World Health Organisation, Cancer Research UK and the NHS all agree, supporting one of the most thorough studies.
This rolled in data from 27 individual pieces of research, can be seen in full at The BMJ and came to clear conclusions:
- Sunbeds bring a 20% increase in melanoma, compared to never using them.
- This risk increased by nearly 2%, for a single, annual additional session.
- If you first use sunbeds before the age of 35, melanoma risk increases to 60%.
- Across Europe, over 3,400 melanoma cases could be attributed to sunbed use.
They also found that the majority of cases occurred in women but saw no rationale in them being more at risk as such. The reality is that sunbeds are used more by women, we all share the same risk and should adopt similar skin cancer prevention measures.
Melanoma can be deadly if not treated in time, so the focus is understandable but not the only symptom. As with the sun, sunbeds can cause other types of skin cancer, which have their own notable issues.
The UVA and UVB rays sunbeds give out also bring wider sun damage. This may be wrinkles, other signs of premature ageing, or damage to your eyes.
Much of the above has been recognised and The Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010 did bar under 18s from commercial sunbed use, along with a few other precautions. The core question still remains.
An adult in the UK can pay for the privilege of damaging their skin, in a business which is marketed as a cosmetic service.
As a skin cancer treatment centre, we naturally have concerns. There are fair arguments for allowing adults to make their own decisions but we can’t think of many instances where similar damage is for sale on the high street.