MPs want additional limitations on sunbeds

20 May 2014

There should be more restrictions on sunbeds, including a blanket ban on unmanned tanning salons, according to a group of concerned MPs.

A new report - from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Skin group - suggests tanning facilities where people are free to use the sunbeds without supervision should be completely prohibited. 

The calls for further restrictions comes from concerned MPs, who are eager to extend the bans on unmanned tanning shops currently in place in Wales and Scotland to cover England as well. 

"We recommend that the Department of Health urgently looks into introducing similar measures in England," the report notes.

In addition to the ban on unsupervised salons, the group of MPs also recommend that all tanning salons should provide “balanced” health information that includes the risks of using sunbeds and safety goggles for all customers.

Furthermore, the report recommends giving local councils the power to licence facilities offering sunbeds and tanning. 

Perhaps most importantly, the MPs want salon staff to be trained to identify the different skin types and their associated risk levels when exposed to the ultraviolet (UV) light sunbeds emit. This would equip employees with the knowledge to “screen” customers who have an increased risk of burning or developing skin cancer. 

The report also calls for compliance testing to safeguard users and ensure facilities are complying with restrictions on UV emissions. 

Sara Osborne, Cancer Research UK’s head of policy, said the recommendations made in the review were "so important", since the evidence that sunbeds raise the risk of skin cancer is clear.

"Research has shown that using sunbeds for the first time before the age of 35 increases the risk of developing malignant melanoma by nearly 60 per cent. Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer and the second most common cancer in people aged 15 to 34."

“Cancer Research UK successfully campaigned to introduce tighter legislation around sunbeds, including a ban on under-18s using them. Ensuring that all sunbeds are supervised is necessary to prevent children from accessing sunbeds and increasing their risk of developing skin cancer.”

According to Cancer Research UK, more than 13,000 people are diagnosed with malignant melanoma - the most severe form of skin cancer - every year. This is a significant increase to the 1,800 diagnosed back in 1975.

Malignant melanoma is now the fifth most common form of the disease in Britain and more than 2,000 lose their lives to it every year.

The condition occurs when some skin cells begin the develop abnormally - a process that has yet to be explained. It is thought that exposure to UV light from natural or artificial sources may be partly responsible for the onset of the disease.

A number of factors can increase your chances of developing this serious strain of skin cancer, according to the NHS. These include having pale skin that burns easily, red or blonde hair, having lots of moles or freckles and being related to someone who has had melanoma. 

Surgery is the main treatment option, although this depends on the patient’s own circumstances. If it is caught in its early stages, this is usually successful, however, follow-up care may be needed to prevent the melanoma from recurring.  

In the advanced stages, surgery is not an option. Instead measures, such as chemotherapy, are taken to slow the spread of the cancer and reduce symptoms.

Posted by Philip Briggs


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