Sunbed cancer risks almost triples

In collaboration with the Press Association

The cancer risk associated with sunbeds has almost tripled in the last decade as tanning machines have grown more powerful, Scottish researchers have reported.

The survey, conducted by the Ninewells hospital and medical school in Dundee, found that 83 per cent of sunbeds exceed EU safety guidelines on ultraviolet radiation, the major cause of skin cancer.

The survey was conducted as a follow up to a similar study conducted in 1997, which found that the intensity of lamps used was equivalent to British summer sunshine.

"What we found this time is that the skin cancer risk has increased significantly, by around 2.7 times," said research Dr Harry Moseley.

"Now, being on a sunbed is comparable to being exposed to the Mediterranean sun."

Around 70,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the UK every year, double the number diagnosed annually in the early 1980s, resulting in around 2,000 deaths.

The incidence of the disease in Scotland, which has the highest number of sunbeds in the UK, has tripled over the same period.

Sara Hiom of Cancer Research UK said that the charity would support a mandatory licensing system for tanning salons to ensure that they met minimum safety standards.

"We would like to see strict guidelines clearly displayed wherever sunbeds are offered and think all sunbeds sold in the EU should display a warning statement," she said.

"We believe that people under 18 should never use sunbeds. As it is impossible to check ages at unmanned sunbed salons it would be better if those outlets with coin-operated sunbeds were closed down.

"While adults are free to make their own decisions about using sunbeds it is important that they should be fully informed of the risks involved."