Sunbeds cause skin cancer when used exactly as intended…

It’s official, there is no safe limit for exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) from sunbeds, according to independent scientific committee.

Skin cancer in Ireland
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Ireland. Yet, in most cases, it is also one of the most preventable forms of cancer. There are two main types: non-melanoma (including basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma), and the less common but potentially deadly melanoma.

For most people, the health risks are related to overexposure to UV radiation from the sun. However, many people deliberately expose themselves to high levels of UV radiation from artificial sources (e.g. sunbeds), which also increase their skin cancer risk.

The World Health Organization classifies ‘UV emitting tanning devices’ as carcinogenic (having the potential to cause cancer) to humans, and recommends avoidance of sunbeds and tanning parlours.

Risks of sunbeds for cosmetic purposes
On November 30th 2016, the European Commission and its independent Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) published their final Opinion on the ‘Biological effects of ultraviolet radiation relevant to health, with particular reference to sunbeds for cosmetic purposes’.

According to SCHEER, evidence indicates that UV radiation from sunbeds causes skin cancer (both melanoma and non-melanoma), and may also cause a form of eye cancer (ocular melanoma). SCHEER concluded that there is no safe limit for exposure to UV radiation from sunbeds.

Public health issue
In Europe, nearly 3,500 of 63,942 new cases of melanoma diagnosed every year may be attributable to sunbed use, making this is an important public health issue.

Ban the tan!
Sunbeds cause skin cancer when used exactly as intended.

The use of sunbeds should not be confused with phototherapy (or light therapy) delivered in hospital dermatology day care centres. Phototherapy has been specially designed to treat certain skin conditions and involves exposing the skin to particular wavelengths of ultraviolet light on a regular basis, using specially calibrated units and under careful medical supervision. The Irish Skin Foundation does not support the use of sunbeds as a substitute for phototherapy performed under medical supervision.


Next article: Know your skin type! The effects of sunlight are not the same for everyone

We want everyone in Ireland to learn to Protect & Inspect their skin! Read our short guide, written with hospital-based dermatologists, to checking your skin.   

Click for more about Protect & Inspect!