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Last Updated: Friday, 1 September 2006, 05:52 GMT 06:52 UK
Doctors' call to regulate sunbeds
Sunbed
Doctors are concerned about links with skin cancer
Doctors worried about a rise in skin cancer cases want the Welsh Assembly Government to regulate sunbed use.

The British Medical Association Cymru is "deeply concerned" about the link between sunbeds and skin cancer.

It wants legislation to stop children using tanning salons and prevent adults from over-exposing themselves.

The Welsh assembly government said it supported having strict guidelines displayed near sunbeds but added adults were free to decide their own usage.

The BMA wants a bill brought in which would require sunbed operators to have a licence from the local authority.

WHAT A SUNBED BILL COULD DO
Prevent children using sunbeds
Protect adults from over-exposure
Ensure sunbed users are supervised
End the use of coin-operated machines
Ensure sessions are monitored and limited
Provide health risk information in parlours
Ensure premises are inspected

Skin cancers are the most common group of cancers in the UK, with 60,000 new cases reported in England and Wales every year.

BMA Cymru secretary Dr Richard Lewis said: "BMA Cymru Wales does not recommend tanning devices for cosmetic purposes because their use may result in acute and chronic health effects on the skin and eye.

"We therefore believe that there should be a thorough regulation of sunbed operators.

"Tighter controls could have a positive impact on skin cancer prevention efforts.

"With its new powers to create new Welsh law, the National assembly now has the opportunity to make a difference on this issue and steal a march on the UK government."

He said even using sunbeds just once a month was enough to double an individual's annual dose of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The risk of skin cancer is related to lifetime exposure to UV light, and intense exposure is the most dangerous.

Kathy Banks from trade body the Sunbed Association said the body welcomed the BMA's recommendations which would prevent under-16s from using sunbeds, protect adults and ensure properly trained staff were always present.

"The latter would mean unstaffed salons could no longer trade," she said.

However she added the greatest source of UV exposure came from the sun.

She said: "It is essential that due consideration should be given to people's outdoor exposure habits if there is to be any positive impact on skin cancer prevention."

Tumours

Dr Sharon Lewis, consultant dermatologist at Swansea NHS Trust, said: "We are seeing more and more younger patients with skin cancer, particularly young women who are frequent sun bed users.

"In the past some types of skin cancer were only seen in elderly people, particularly outdoor workers, but now it is commonplace to see patients in their 40s and even younger with these tumours."

The BMA also hopes legislation would reduce the number of burns and accidents attributed to misuse of unsupervised equipment.

An assembly government spokeswoman said: "The assembly government supports the annual Sunsmart campaign which calls for strict guidelines to be clearly displayed wherever sunbeds are used.

"The campaign would like to see all sunbeds manufactured and sold in the EU bearing a permanent statement of warning on the risks associated with use."

She added the campaign recognised adults were free to make their own decisions about using sunbeds.


SEE ALSO
'Tanorexic' teenager risks cancer
12 May 05 |  Merseyside

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