“We must ban tanning beds now to reduce our risk of aggressive skin cancer” – Miriam Stoppard

Banning indoor tanning beds would result in a staggering 1,206 fewer melanoma cases in England and 207 fewer melanoma deaths, writes Dr. Miriam Stoppard

Wearing glasses while lying on a tanning bed can cause devastating problems
Indoor tanning has the same dangerous effects as sunbathing in Australia

Australia and Bondi Beach in particular is one of the skin cancer hotspots in the world. I once made a documentary there, Dying for a Tan, in which I spoke to pale skinned people who bare it all in the treacherous Australian sun.

Even the knowledge that they were vying for the catastrophe of a malignant melanoma, one of the most aggressive forms of cancer, didn’t deter them.

A tanning session indoors has the same dangerous effect, but the threat of malignant melanoma is still dismissed as scaremongering.

Researchers at the University of Manchester are taking a different tack, claiming that a ban on commercially available indoor tanning beds would significantly reduce melanoma deaths.

The thing is, people with pale skin don’t have enough pigment to protect them from UV rays in the sun, making them more prone to skin cancer.

By tracking the projected impact of a ban on the 618,000 18-year-olds living in England in 2019, the research team showed that a ban on indoor tanning beds resulted in a staggering 1,206 fewer cases of melanoma and 207 fewer deaths from melanoma over a lifetime would.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below…

dr Miriam Stoppard is the medical writer for The Mirror

And we wouldn’t be the first to ban commercial tanning beds. Similar laws in North America, Europe and Australia add to the growing body of evidence supporting a total ban on tanning salons. In England, use of tanning beds is particularly high in the North West and in more socially deprived cities.

Its popularity is believed to partially explain the unusually high rates of melanoma seen in young women in the Northwest.

And shockingly, it’s believed that around 62,000 children under the age of 18 are currently using sunbeds in England.

Paul Lorigan, Professor of Oncology at the University of Manchester, said: “If the NHS invested in a public health campaign to support the ban on sunbeds, we believe there would be a significant reduction in melanoma and other skin cancers, NHS resources saved and deaths averted… Anyone who has used a solarium increases their risk of melanoma by almost 60%.

“We are showing for the first time quite conclusively that banning indoor tanning beds, supported by a public health campaign, would be an efficient use of resources to reduce melanoma and other skin cancers in England.”

Professor Adele Green of the University of Manchester adds: “However, policy makers need solid economic evidence to make decisions about a possible ban of such devices to alleviate these burdens. We believe that we have succeeded in doing this.”

Susanna Daniels, CEO of Melanoma Focus, said: “For individuals, tanning bed use dramatically increases the risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer. Rates are rising in the UK but 86% of cases are preventable. We strongly advise against avoiding tanning beds.”

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