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Skin Cancer: Sunbeds

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 6th March 2019.

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Photo of Ged Killen Ged Killen Labour/Co-operative, Rutherglen and Hamilton West

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the potential correlation between the use of sunbeds for tanning the risk of skin cancer; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Steve Brine Steve Brine The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation-emitting tanning devices, including sunbeds, were classified in 2009 as ‘carcinogenic to humans’ by the International Agency for Research on Cancer based on consistent evidence of a positive association between their use and incidence of melanoma.

In 2009, the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment published advice to United Kingdom Government on the health effects and risks from UV sunbeds and concluded that there is evidence to suggest an increased risk of skin cancer among those who use sunbeds before the age of 35. The Committee's Report is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/comare-13th-report

The World Health Organization (WHO) report on ‘Artificial tanning devices: public health interventions to manage sunbeds’ states that melanoma risk increases with younger age of first sunbed use and with greater lifetime use of sunbeds. The WHO report can be viewed at the following link:

https://www.who.int/uv/publications/artificial-tanning-devices/en/

A systematic review in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) showed that people who have used a sunbed at least once at any stage in their life have a 20% higher risk of developing melanoma than people who have never used a sunbed, and the first use of sunbeds before the age of 35 increases the risk of developing melanoma by 59%. The BMJ report can be viewed at the following link:

https://www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e4757.long

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