Sunbeds yes or no?

Sunbeds have become easier and faster to use; the days of lying on a rather uncomfortable bed and ending up with the white patch on your bottom have almost disappeared with the emergence of the fast tanning upright tubes. This means that the temptation to use them is also greater.

Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a safe tan. Sadly, what we have interpreted as a sign of wellbeing and health for years is really evidence of sun-damaged skin.

Awareness of the need to use high factor sun screens and to reduce exposure to the sun, particularly during the hours of 11-4pm is probably greater than it was, but even so, most of us still take some risks getting our annual tan. Research shows that young people are still ignoring the advice and dermatologists are worried that we face an explosion of skin cancer over the next decade.

While there is no definite evidence that using sunbeds leads to skin cancer, it would seem likely that they will increase your risk. What is clear is that they will prematurely age your skin, leading to fine wrinkles, leathery and sagging skin. The British Photodermatology Group recommends that they are not used at all.

There are other risks associated with the use of sunbeds – damage to the eyes, impaired immune system and all the risks are greater in young people. Some people such as those with very fair skin, those with freckles and who burn easily are certainly advised not to use sunbeds. While the most deadly form of skin cancer – melanoma, is predominantly linked to exposure to sunlight, the other forms of skin cancer – basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma have been linked to the use of sunbeds.

Further information

This article published on
26 January 2006

Next review date 1/1/2013


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