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Is it safe to use a sunbed? Everything you need to know before you do

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Is it safe to use a sunbed?

Under 18s are now banned from using sunbeds in England and Wales.

The new law came in just days after a report from Cancer Research UK was released which found that every day, more than 2 people under 35 are diagnosed with malignant melanoma - the most deadly form of skin cancer.

You can increase your chances of skin cancer by using a sunbed. In fact, using a sunbed under the age of 35 can increase your risk of melanoma by 75%, according to
Cancer Research UK.

It's been estimated that more than 100 deaths a year in the UK occur from skin cancer linked to sunbed use.

We talked to Cancer Research to give you the facts about sun beds and tanning.

Sunbed tanning is safer than sun tanning



False! Sun beds are not a 'safe' alternative to sun tanning. Sun beds give out ultraviolet (UV) rays just like the sun. Exposure to UV rays, whether from the sun or a sun bed, damages the DNA in your skin cells. In fact, the strength of UV rays from sun beds can be up to 10-15 times higher than that of the midday sun.

 

Building up a sunbed tan gradually means I'm tanning safely

False! Unfortunately, using sunscreen or limiting your time on a sun bed will not protect your skin from damage and ageing. Actually short periods of intense, irregular exposure to UV, as happens on a sun bed, is the fastest way to damage your skin. Sun beds will age your skin.

A tan will protect me from the sun on holiday

False! A tan offers a very small protection from sunlight or burning, regardless of how you got it. A sun bed tan is about equal to a sunscreen with SPF of just 2-4 and that's just not enough to keep you safe in the sun. And if you don't tan easily in the sun, you won't tan easily on a sun bed, no matter how carefully you do it.

I need a sun bed to produce vitamin D

False! Vitamin D is needed for good health and is produced by your skin when it is exposed to UV rays as well as being present in certain foods. Just a few minutes of sun on our skin produces enough Vitamin D, so you certainly don't need a sun bed to get your vitamins!

For most people if you build up normal levels during the summer, our bodies store enough of the vitamin to last us through the winter. If you are worried about your vitamin D levels talk to your doctor about changing your diet, getting out and about more, or taking vitamin supplements.

Being tanned is a sign of health

False! The simple fact that your skin has changed colour is a sign that it has been damaged. UV from sunbeds not only harms your skin, but without goggles, it can also damage your eyes and lead to irritation, conjunctivitis and eye cancer.

I need to burn to get a tan

False! Burning or going red under a sun bed is a sign that you have seriously damaged your skin. UV light can get deep into the skin's layers and damage the DNA in our skin cells. Cells damaged by UV are at greater risk of contracting cancer. If you have fair or freckly skin that tends to burn, you are at even greater risk of damaging your skin cells.

The more time I spend on sunbeds, the better my tan will look

False! We each have our own tanning limits. No matter how much UV light you get there comes a point when your skin won't get any darker. Boosting your tan by having two sun bed sessions within 24 hours or after sunbathing is particularly bad for you.

Sun beds can cause your skin to lose its smooth, supple texture and become coarse, leathery and wrinkled. You will be doing your skin a favour by getting your beauty sleep in your own bed, rather than in a sunbed.

I'm young - skin damage from sunbeds is not something I need to worry about

False! You can't always see the damage that UV does straight away. It builds up over time. But every time you use a sunbed you are harming your skin and its appearance in the long run. And this damage cannot be reversed. If you have to have surgery for skin cancer, you can end up with major scarring. Using sun beds before the age of 35 increases your risk of developing skin cancer by up to 75%. Melanoma is the second most common cancer amongst 20-39-year-olds and can be fatal.

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Louise de Villiers

Hi, if it was not for th sunbed i would have cancer now, goin g to the beach for even 1 or 2 hours without even being in a sunbed before just for that extra layer of the skin, i could burn myself, in a very bad manner. Yes if you lay in the sunbed more han you suppose to it wil happen to you, everybody have cancer in their body it must just develop! I know for i fact that some people are not blessed like others with a brown or bronz skin. and to be a young lady that is white white and doesnt even have the confidence to wear even a short dress, it doesnt feel nice, the natural sun burns more than a sunbed, even blizters I was there, when I decided to do the sunbed thing I did it, DON'T MAKE A HABBIT' of it, it works. Remember all types of skins are different.

Nicola Roberts

www.eliseforlife.org please read this Elise never even used sunbeds and was very careful in the sun this can happen to anyone and it is heartbreaking

Nicola Dall

I have just had some skin cancer removed from my face just above my eye, and the cancer is believed to have been caused by sun bed use over a course of many years. No argument here.

chris

Hi.. over the years i have taken the advise from people like yourself, i had very few moles tanned in the sun and always was golden and tanned. Now i am pasty white and covered in moles.. I believe even tho there is a degreas in skin cancer, by staying out of the sun, or off sunbeds, i now read that all other cancers increase due to the lack of uv exposer. Is the Sun/sunbed not a natural source of vitamins? I have come to the realisation no one knows how we get these cancers, its all guess work. Smoking exemp of course. In New Zealand skin cancer is increasing every year but the Sunbed industry is nearlly dead.. think you have it wrong. Maybe its to increase the sale of sunscreans? never see the Cancer sociaty at the beach? Cheers

carol banks

Hi Bob, Why don't you read the article on sunbeds. It really explains a lot and should help with your coursework. Carol

bob

i need help with my course work. are sunbeds safe?? xx

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