40% of British teenagers are at risk from cancer, due to sunbed use, according to a new report
Up to 40% of British teenagers are at risk from cancer, due to sunbed use, according to a new report.
A government-funded study of more than 9,000 children found 6% of those aged 11-17 had used a sunbed and in some areas of the country 40% of teenagers used them every week.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, Cancer Research UK called for a ban in England on their use by under-18s. Voluntary regulation was not working and the figures suggested legislation was needed, the government said.
According to reports from the BBC, Scotland has already put legislation in place – due to come into force at the beginning of December – to restrict the use of sunbeds to adults, and Wales has proposed a similar move with Northern Ireland planning a consultation on the issue.
A ban would effectively mean the end of coin-operated tanning booths. It comes after recent research found that sunbed use before the age of 35 was associated with a 75% increased risk of developing the most dangerous form of skin cancer, called malignant melanoma.
Earlier this year the International Agency for Research on Cancer strengthened its classification of sunbeds from ‘probably carcinogenic’ to ‘carcinogenic‘. The latest research – the first looking at use in under-18s – showed teenagers were on average 14 years old when they first experimented with sunbeds.
Girls, older age groups and those living in deprived communities were most likely to use them.
More than 10% of youngsters in the North of England have used a sunbed compared with 4% in the rest of the country. Throughout the country, a quarter of under 18s who used sunbeds did so at least once a month.
Nina Goad, from the British Association of Dermatologists, said: ‘We would rightly be horrified if children had such easy access to cigarettes, so there is no reason why sun beds should be any different, given that we know they can cause cancer.’