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Sunbed Health Risks

Sunbeds, tanning booths and lamps give out harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays that damage your skin and can make it look wrinkled, older or leathery.

They can be more dangerous than natural sunlight because they use a concentrated source of UV radiation. Modern sunbeds are capable of producing irradiation at least the same as the Mediterranean sunlight at midday in August.

It’s never ok to use a sunbed:

  • Sunbed use is associated with an increased risk of skin damage including premature ageing and skin cancer
  • The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organisation, puts sunbeds in the highest cancer risk category
  • Research shows that the risk of melanoma skin cancer is significantly increased when use of tanning devices starts before 35 years of age
  • It’s estimated that in the UK about 100 people die each year from melanoma skin cancers that are due to sunbed use – that’s about two to three deaths per year in Northern Ireland
  • Sunbed use can also be harmful to eyesight. Without suitable eye protection, UV from sunbeds can damage the user’s eyes, risking irritation, conjunctivitis, cataract formation, and, in some cases, eye cancer, including uveal melanomas

The European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks reviewed all the available research and evidence and in Nov 2016 concluded that:

  • There is strong evidence that UV radiation from sunbeds causes several types of skin cancer (melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma) and may also cause melanoma of the eye
  • There is no safe limit for exposure to UV radiation from sunbeds
  • Read – Go for the glow or ban the tan? Is it safe to use sunbeds?