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Staying safe in the sun

14 May 2018

My daughter has started using sun beds at least twice each week to top up her tan. I’ve heard that using sunbeds can cause cancer. Is this true?

Firstly, if your daughter is under 18, it’s against the law for her to use a sunbed. She also faces huge risks to her health.

Sunbeds provide no positive health benefits and increase risk of cancer by up to 20%. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), sunbeds cause melanoma skin cancer, the most serious form.

Like the sun, sunbeds give off UVA and UVB rays, causing DNA damage. Cells damaged by UV are more likely to mutate and divide uncontrollably and that’s cancer.

Make your daughter aware that every time she uses the sunbed, she’s not only damaging her health, but her looks too. Sunbeds can make skin coarse, leathery and wrinkled and you can’t always see the damage straight away, it builds up gradually. First exposure to sunbeds before the age of 35 years increases the risk of melanoma by 75%.

The British Association of Dermatologists recommends that the following groups should never use sunbeds: those below 18 years, those with fair skin that does not tan, anyone with a large number of moles, those with a history of skin cancer and finally anyone who has an abnormal sensitivity to the sun.

Let me also bust some of the popular sunbed myths:

  • Vitamin D, which is important for healthy bones is present in certain foods and the body only requires very short exposure to the sun to make enough. You don’t need a sunbed to get your vitamins.
  • A suntan does not provide much protection from the sun on holiday. At most, it’s the equivalent of SPF 3 - nowhere near the recommended SPF 15.
  • A tan is not a beauty product, it’s a sign your skin is trying to protect itself from damage.

For more information about sunbeds and skin cancer visit www.cancerresearchuk.org.

 

 

 

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