The sunbed industry is ignoring warnings by the World Health Organisation and Cancer Research UK about sunbed use despite the incidence of skin cancer doubling in the last ten years, says Which? (5.6.04).
Ten cases are now diagnosed per 100,000 people each year. Yet Which? reveals shocking evidence that 95% of outlets they visited allowed customers who are at high risk of developing skin cancer to use their sunbeds.
Neither the industry nor government have acted to protect consumers since a Health Which? investigation five years ago found the public was not being warned about the potential dangers of using sunbeds. Last summer the British Medical Association called on the government to regulate sunbed use, but this still hasn’t happened
To investigate whether tanning outlets are taking seriously their responsibility to advise customers – particularly those with ‘skin type 1’, who should not use specialist tanning salons at all because of high risk of skin cancer – on the dangers of sunbeds, Which? sent researchers to salons, leisure centres and health clubs around the UK. Just under half of the tanning outlets were members of The Sunbed Association (TSA), which has a strict code of practice for its members.
Experts were shocked when they analysed the results. 40 out of the 42 outlets were rated as inadequate and would allow people with ‘skin type 1’ to use their sunbeds. When asked about its code of practice, TSA told Which? that: "We inspect all premises and rarely find members who are in serious breach of the code, such as allowing someone with ‘type 1 skin’ and under-16’s to use a sunbed."
Anyone using a sunbed should first have their skin assessed by staff via a questionnaire. Those with ‘skin type 1’ should not be allowed to use a sunbed. And even those with suitable skin type should have their sunbed exposure limited to the European industry guideline of a maximum of 60 sessions per year.