30 Jul 2009

Cancer surgeon calls for sunbeds to be banned

4:07 pm on 30 July 2009

Auckland cancer surgeon Isaac Cranshaw wants sunbeds banned - altogether if possible, but at least to children and teenagers.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has just decided to reclassify tanning beds and other sources of ultraviolet radiation.

Sunbeds and sunlamps, previously considered "probably carcinogenic to humans", are now classed as "carcinogenic" without qualification.

The new assessment, announced in the journal Lancet Oncology, puts sunbed use on a par with smoking or exposure to asbestos.

The agency made its decision following a review of research that concluded the risk of melanoma - the most deadly form of skin cancer - is 75% greater in people who started using sunbeds regularly before the age of 30.

In addition, several studies have linked sunbed use to a raised risk of melanoma of the eye.

Voluntary regulations 'unlikely to work'

Mr Cranshaw backs calls for New Zealand to join several Australian states and countries such as the United States in introducing an age limit for those who want to use sunbeds.

He concedes there is probably little chance of banning sunbeds altogether, but says voluntary regulations are unlikely to work.

Proposals to ban people under the age of 18 from using sunbeds are under consideration by Britain.