Sunbeds ‘raise risk of cancer by 20pc’

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Tougher actions are needed to reduce the use of harmful sunbeds researchers said, after a study found they raise the risk of skin cancer by 20 per cent.

If the number of teenagers and young adults using sunbeds does not decrease, “more radical actions” should be considered including a nationwide ban on sunbed salons, according to researchers from the International Prevention Research Institute in Lyon, France.

The researchers had examining data from 27 studies conducted between 1981 and 2012 which concerned 11,428 cases of melanoma.

The risk of cutaneous melanoma increased by 20 per cent for those who had ever used an indoor tanning device with ultraviolet light, it was found.

The risk of melanoma doubled when people started using sunbeds before their 35th birthday.

Across Europe, the use of sunbeds leads to almost 3,500 cases of skin cancer and 800 deaths every year, the authors estimated.

In the UK there are an estimated 100 deaths every year attributable to sunbed use.

The number of deaths is expected to rise over the next 20 years, the authors said.

The researchers called for restrictions of tanning beds for anyone under the age of 18.

The also called for unsupervised tanning salons to be banned – laws that are already in place in Australia and several European countries.

“Prevention of the harmful effects associated with sunbed use must be based on tougher actions,” the authors said.

“If sunbed use by teenagers and young adults does not substantially decrease in the short term, then more radical actions should be envisioned, such as the nationwide prohibition of the public use of tanning devices, which was implemented by the Brazilian National Health Surveillance Agency in November 2009.”

They argued that the sunbed industry had not shown an ability to “self-regulate effectively” but instead accused it of putting out “information intended to deceive consumers”.

“The sunbed industry has used the opportunity to claim that properly regulated indoor tanning is safe, and that it might even have health benefits,” they said.