Urgent calls to BAN tanning beds to save “thousands of lives”.

BANING tanning beds could help prevent deaths from deadly skin cancer, a new study has found.

There are around 2,300 melanoma deaths in the UK each year – that’s more than six a day.

Experts have called for a ban on tanning beds in England to prevent thousands of deaths


Experts have called for a ban on tanning beds in England to prevent thousands of deathsPhoto credit: Getty

Experts from the University of Manchester found that phasing out the use of indoor tanning beds in shops would result in 1,206 fewer cases and 207 deaths over the lifetime of over half a million Britons.

In an article in the British Journal of Dermatology, medics said scrapping the beds would mean 3,987 fewer cases of other more common skin cancers, such as squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma.

These conditions, experts say, are placing a heavy burden on both the patients affected and the NHS.

While the directive could save lives, doctors would say it would also save the healthcare system nearly £700,000.

I get trolled about my moles, but I don't care - they saved my life and might save you
Urgent warning to parents about common summertime mistakes that can prove fatal

Experts said this would result in a net monetary gain of £10.6m, with a 99 per cent chance that the ban, together with the information campaign, would be cost-effective.

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 estimate there would be a significant reduction in melanoma and other skin cancers, NHS resources would saved and deaths averted.

“It is quite clear that melanoma and keratinocyte skin cancer have a significant impact on population health and health care budgets.”

Prof Lorigan, who is also a volunteer consultant medical oncologist at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust, added that part of this was due to indoor tanning.

“Anyone who has used a tanning bed increases their risk of melanoma by almost 60 percent.

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

As part of the study, which coincides with Melanoma Awareness Month, the team also considered how tanning bed use has been beneficial for some people over the age of 18.

They concluded that the impact of indoor tanning and the savings the NHS would make would outweigh the benefits for these people.

The NHS says many tanning beds emit a larger dose of UV rays than the tropical midday sun.

Guidelines state that using the beds can prematurely age your skin.

Professor Adele Green from the University of Manchester and CRUK Manchester Institute added: “We already know that indoor tanning equipment is closely associated with melanoma and other skin cancers, leading to morbidity, mortality and increased healthcare costs.

What is melanoma and what are the symptoms?

The most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole.

Most experts recommend using the simple “ABCDE” rule to look for symptoms of melanoma skin cancer, which can appear anywhere on the body.

  • Asymmetric – Melanomas usually have two very distinct halves and an irregular shape
  • Edge – Melanomas usually have a nicked or ragged edge
  • Colors – Melanomas are usually a mixture of two or more colors
  • Diameter – most melanomas are usually more than 6mm in diameter
  • Enlargement or bump – a mole that changes in size over time is more likely to be a melanoma

“But policymakers need solid economic evidence to make decisions about potentially banning such devices and mitigating those burdens. We believe that we have succeeded in proving this.”

You can only use a tanning bed if you are over 18, but it is estimated that around 62,000 children under the age of 18 are currently using tanning beds in England.

The Sun previously launched its Ding For A Tan campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of using tanning beds, which can increase the risk of skin cancer and cause premature aging.

In response to the study, experts at the Sunbed Association said it was “way too simplistic”.

Gary Lipman, chairman of the group, said it was “disingenuous” to say a ban on tanning beds would have an impact on melanoma rates in England.

He said: “We strongly refute the mathematical-theoretical claims made in this study, not least because it relies heavily on data from studies conducted outside the UK where the tanning industry is not as well regulated as it is here.

“But clearly there is no reliable evidence that responsible, non-stinging use of a professionally operated tanning bed by someone who can tan increases their risk of melanoma.”

The group highlighted research that had previously found that 72 per cent of Brits admitted to getting burned in the sun – and not on tanning beds.

“Excessive sun exposure and sunburn are an increased risk factor for melanoma, not tanning.

“A tanning session at a professional tanning salon in England uses tanning beds that meet a British standard that drastically reduces the risk of burns and clients are screened for contraindications to tanning by well-trained staff,” Gary added.

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Sarah Y. Kim

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