Many of us want to look bronzed and healthy all year round, but the latest warnings should give pause for thought. Experts now believe that the risks of sunbeds may be as high as those of asbestos and smoking. The World Health Organisation has ranked sunbeds at Level Two risk since 1992, but has now raised that to Level One – a danger to human health.
“UV rays are radiation which penetrate the skin, and can cause lesions within the skin,” said cancer researcher Beatrice Secretan. “These lesions can cause the development of cancer.”
According to the research, exposure to artificial UV rays by people under the age of 30 raises the risk of melanoma, or skin cancer, by about 75 percent.
With UV rays being acknowledged as posing a risk, it is perhaps surprising that so many people still want to get brown no matter what.
“I can’t stop myself!” said one woman. “It is like sweets: you can tell people they are going to get fat, but they keep on eating. For me, it is not sweets, it is getting a tan.”
Sun-lovers defend artificial tanning by pointing out that the sun itself has been classed as a cause of cancer since 1992.
“The dangers of the sun are everywhere, on the beach, anywhere where we expose ourselves to the rays without taking precautions like suncreams,” said Dominique Baumier, from the French sunbed association. “Natural sunshine is far more harmful than the rays we find in sunbeds.”
For the time being there is no question of banning sunbeds. It is more important to find out about the risks, and to train people better in sunbed operation to warn their clients of possible dangers.
“Banning sunbeds outright would not work,” said
Georges Reuter, from the French association of dermatologists. “There are ways of getting around such a thing. It is more important to have proper information and training for sunbed operators, which is not always the case at the moment.”
Skin experts say ten sunbed sessions a year should be the maximum. But they prefer the use of bronzing lotions, in cream or shower form.
However, as always, the advice must be: “Everything in moderation!”