Tayside and Central Scotland

Dundee researchers claim sunbeds pose greater cancer risk than the sun

woman on sunbed
Image caption The university found nine out of 10 sunbeds emitted UV radiation above British and EU standards

Researchers have warned using a sunbed has more than double the cancer risk than spending the same length of time in the Mediterranean midday summer sun.

The team at Dundee University tested levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from 400 sunbeds in England.

They compared the skin cancer risk from using these sunbeds with the risk from the Mediterranean summer sun at noon.

The average sunbed tested recorded more than double the risk of cancer.

In one case, the bed studied produced a skin cancer risk six times higher than the sun.

High radiation

The team also found that that nine in 10 of the sunbeds tested emitted UV radiation at levels above British and EU standards.

The average strength of radiation was approaching twice the recommended limit.

Prof Harry Moseley, consultant medical physicist at University of Dundee and lead author, said: "The development of high-power sunlamps, along with clear failures of the sunbed industry to regulate themselves effectively, is putting young people at an even greater risk of skin cancer than we previously thought.

"We hope that these findings will make people think twice before using sunbeds as you can't be sure how much radiation you're exposing yourself to when you try to top-up a tan.

"People need to be encouraged to take better care of their skin, otherwise the cases of malignant melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, will continue to increase."

The study was carried out for Cancer Research UK.

Increased risk

The charity's senior health information officer, Yinka Ebo, said: "It's worrying to see that so many sunbeds in England are not meeting the safety standards. This strengthens our advice that using a sunbed just isn't worth it.

"Research has already shown that using sunbeds for the first time before the age of 35 increases the risk of malignant melanoma by 87 per cent.

"They're not going to do you any good - the best case scenario is that they'll age and damage your skin; the worst case scenario is a cancer diagnosis and potentially death."

The strength of UV from sunbeds was found to be no different in those areas where the licensing of sunbeds is required compared to unlicensed areas.

The British and European standard was introduced in 2003 and sets out a maximum level of UV radiation to be emitted by sunbeds used for cosmetic purposes.

Cancer Research said the results suggest that there is much more work for local authorities to do to ensure that standards are being met by tanning businesses.

Nina Goad of the British Association of Dermatologists said: "Product safety standards are there to protect the public and the government needs to step up its regulation of the industry."

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