Dying for a tan?

According to research published by the British Association of Dermatologists, sunbed manufacturers and retailers are putting the lives of young British women at risk by trying to infer that UVA sunbeds are a safer way to tan.

Recent research conducted by the Guardian Newspaper indicates that a shocking 9% of young girls aged 11-17 year admitted to having used a sunbed. This finding is even more shocking bearing in mind that research conducted by Cancer Research UK also suggests that those who use a sunbed before the age of 35 run a 75% increased risk of developing the most deadly of skin cancers, malignant melanoma.

Dr Lowe, a leading expert in sun damage, sun protection and skin cancer has long been concerned about the dangers of potentially deadly UVA rays since they were originally touted in the early 80s as the apparently 'safe ray' and UVA sun beds first became popular. Since then, science has proven that UVA rays actually do considerable damage, a fact that modern sunbed manufacturers choose to overlook as they continue to manufacture sunbeds with high intensity UVA components. Remarkably, ultraviolet rays in sunbeds can be up to 10 times stronger than the mid-day sun. The bottom line is that almost every day of the year a young woman between the age of 20 and 29 is diagnosed with malignant melanoma in the UK according to the latest figures announced by Cancer Research UK.

There are now twice as many cases of melanoma as there are breast cancers diagnosed for women in their twenties and thirties. According to Cancer Research UK, malignant melanoma rates have quadrupled since the 1970s and this is now the most common cancer in young adults (aged 15 - 34).

Given that these statistics are known to be rising rapidly just for the sake of a tan, Dr Lowe wonders how long it will be before the government takes responsible action and removes one of the main causes of this deadly disease off our high streets. This worrying list of health concerns related to the damage incurred by sun and sunbed goes on and it is these concerns that led Dr Lowe to call for a ban on commercial sunbed salons.

Dr Lowe confirms that it is very important to protect skin from the harmful effects of UVA rays even when the sun is not shining, as harmful UVA rays remain, regardless of weather or distance from the sun.

According to registration statistics: "The Sunbed industry estimates that there are more than 6000 registered tanning salons in the UK, but this figure does not include those who are unregistered, such as the many hair salons and gyms who have an unlicensed sunbed in a room at the back." The undeniably sad thing about this type of cancer is that if women simply took easy steps to protect their skin from over exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun by using effective sunscreens and avoided using a sunbed completely that this additional health risk to young women could be eradicated.

So if you want to avoid the additional risk of developing skin cancer, simply follow the following advice issued by Cancer Research UK: "The only way to be absolutely sure of keeping your risk of skin cancer as low as possible is to keep out of the sun. If you are in the sun you should make sure that you never burn. Sun creams are only one way to do this. You should not believe that by applying a sunscreen you automatically protect your skin from damage. These should be SPF 30 with EU proven protection tests which are shown by a UVA logo on the package."