Why doing beds is bad for you

As a nation who naturally carry complexions which bare a stark resemblance to white paste, the option of using sunbeds and tanning creams to achieve a glowing sun-kissed look is extremely enticing.

The Irish Cancer Society (ICS) reported that there was an increase in the number of younger people using sunbeds in a poll conducted in 2017. The results showed that eight per cent of people aged between 15 and 24 had used a sunbed within the past year which was a three per cent increase from 2010. This is despite the introduction of the Public Health (Sunbeds) Act which was introduced in 2014 which made it illegal for someone under 18 to use a sunbed.

Sunbeds have been under scrutiny from health organisations for quite some time now following the ICS’s findings that 9 per cent of Irish people used sunbeds back in 2003. Following the 2014 Act, businesses must pay €120 as a notification fee to tell the Health Service Executive that they own a sunbed. They must also display a sign warning of the increased risk of cancer when using a sunbed.

The Department of Health cited skin cancer as one of the reasons for the introduction of the law. People with fair skin are more prone to the negative effects of sunbeds, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) following studies carried out by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). This would put Irish people generally at a higher risk of experiencing blistering skin, wrinkles and skin cancer.

“Tanning beyond the normal complexion is associated with DNA damage in melanocytes, the cells that produce the dark-coloured melanin pigment in the skin. Even a small tanning effect requires a lot of DNA damage in the fair-skinned population. Therefore, regular use of sunbeds will significantly increase your chances of getting skin cancer if you are fair-skinned,” says WHO on their website.

Testing has shown that 10 minutes in a sunbed is equivalent to 10 minutes sunbathing in the Mediterranean sun, according to WHO. They add that twice as much of the surface of the skin is subjected to UV rays in a tanning bed as in natural sunlight.

“The only cancer that the IARC could prove to be caused by sunbeds was an extremely rare eyelid cancer caused by not wearing protective goggles. Apart from this eyelid cancerno cancer had ever been proved to have been caused by sunbed usage,” said Tanzone, a tanning studio based in Finglas, in a statement responding to sunbeds being listed among the highest risk of causing cancer.

There are options other than tanning beds that offer a safe way to achieve a tan. Spray tans are a more expensive option per session but only require a top up every 10 days to maintain the colour. This is opposed to the recommended two to three times a week for sunbeds. Tinted moisturisers can be used at home to build a gradual tan while keeping the skin healthy and hydrated.

Carrie McMullan

Image Credit: Tarom