Total eclipse for tanning beds

Rather than making it safer to tan, solarium tanning can increase your risk of cancer.

Hundreds of young WA women are likely to avoid disfiguring and potentially deadly skin cancers because of a ban on tanning beds that started on January 1.

Regulations to ban commercial sun beds make WA the last State to outlaw the machines.

Cancer Council WA director of education and research Terry u said the ban came 12 months after laws took effect in the rest of the country.

He said that before regulations started in Australia it was estimated that sun beds caused almost 3000 skin cancers a year, including 281 melanomas, and were responsible for 43 melanoma-related deaths.

A recent study predicted one in six melanomas in Australians aged 18 to 29 could be prevented if solarium operators were shut down.

Mr Slevin said the machines were mostly used by people under the age of 24, often young women.

They exposed skin to ultra-violet radiation five to six times more intense than the midday summer sun.

“Any primary school kid in WA will tell you that this is likely to boost skin cancer risk, and the World Health Organisation confirmed this by adding sun beds to the list of Class 1 carcinogens in 2009,” he said.

Mr Slevin said the solarium industry had been around for more than 30 years and over that time evidence had grown linking highly intense sources of UV radiation with increased skin cancer risk.

He attributed some of the public awareness to a campaign by young Melbourne woman Clare Oliver, who died in 2007 at the age of 26 after battling an aggressive melanoma she was diagnosed with when she was 22.

As a teenager, Ms Oliver went to the beach to get a tan and from the age of 19 took up offers of cheap solarium sessions.

“The sad death of Clare Oliver, due in her estimation to her regular use of a solarium in her early 20s, triggered a fundamental shift in attitudes to these machines,” Mr Slevin said.

“With almost 300 skin cancers being removed every business hour in Australia, banning one of the contributors in the form of sun beds is a very sensible and welcome reform.”

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