New restrictions on sunbeds should go further – Irish Skin Foundation

The Irish Skin Foundation has welcomed new regulations to prohibit sunbed business operators from promoting sunbed sessions for minimum periods of time but urged the Minister to go further.

“These new restrictions are absolutely a step in the right direction”, according to according to dermatologist Dr Patrick Ormond from the Irish Skin Foundation, “but we can do more to protect people from this known cause of skin cancer and attack any suggestion that there is a ‘safe’  way to use sunbeds”.

“Sunbed use and overexposure to the sun is a risk to the skin at any age.  We know that sunbeds are hugely popular among younger people in Ireland and that exposure to sunbeds before the age of 35 years increases the risk of melanoma by 75 per cent – this is why the Minister must take further steps to discourage sunbed use”. [1]

The Irish Skin Foundation also believes a strong public information programme emphasising the risks of sunbeds, especially to children and young adults and young adults is needed to discourage subbed use.  In addition the charity is asking the Minister to introduce measures to ensure:

  •  All premises are staffed by trained personnel
  •  Full-time supervision of sunbed facilities is undertaken by trained staff
  • Compulsory display and provision of information regarding the health risks
  • Evidence that the equipment has been properly maintained and complies with safety standards.

The Irish Skin Foundation warns that  sunbeds should never be used by these groups:

  • Under 18 years of age
  • Those with fair/freckly skin that does not normally tan with sun exposure
  • Those with large number of moles
  • Those with a history of skin cancer
  • Those with abnormal sensitivity to the sun either due to photosensitive skin diseases (sun allergies) or medication

“People need to be encouraged to take better care of their skin and avoid sun beds, otherwise cases of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, will continue to increase in Ireland,” Dr. Ormond added

The World Health Organisation has already classed sunbeds alongside cigarettes on the list of most cancer causing substances and habits.

The regulations add to other restrictions on sunbed use introduced in March of this year that targeted promotions of ‘free of charge’, ‘half price’, ‘happy hours’ or ‘early bird’ offers. The new regulations were signed by the Minister for Health, Mr. Leo Varadkar T.D., this week.

1 Ambient and sunbed ultraviolet radiation exposure: exposure rates, protection habits and attitudes of Irish teenagers aged 14–18 years before introduction of national sunbed legislation M. Fitzgerald, S. Daly, D. McKenna, J. Bourke and A. Kelly, presented at the British Association of Dermatology annual meeting, 7th July 2015.     IARC. International Agency for Research on Cancer Working Group on artificial ultraviolet (UV) light and skin cancer. The association of use of sunbeds with cutaneous malignant melanoma and other skin cancers: A systematic review. Int J Cancer 2007; 120: 1116-22.