The findings of a new study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health provides evidence that solarium use may be making a comeback with renewed interest in recent years.
SunSmart Manager, Jen Makin, said: "We are concerned about a marked increase in Google searches for solariums in recent years highlighting renewed interest in their use. Given that the solarium ban is not due to come into effect until the end of 2014, in 18 months' time, we want to remind Victorians that solariums are never safe. With every use, you are increasing your risk of melanoma."
"Following the highly publicised death of Clare Oliver from melanoma in 2007 and the introduction of legislation in February 2008, public awareness around the melanoma risk from solarium use was at a peak, as seen by a lack of Google searches during this time."
"In more recent years, a spike in search numbers is again becoming evident. We believe this indicates that Victorians are looking to find a local solarium online especially as these search peaks occurred during spring or the beginning of summer when people are likely to be preparing for special events or holidays."
Recent research in the Medical Journal of Australia showed many Australians believe solariums are now safer to use following the introduction of regulations.
"Nearly half of all adolescents believe solariums are still safe to use under health industry regulations. Added to this, renewed interest evidenced by this research is cause for serious concern. Tanning, from the sun or a solarium, is a sign your skin cells are in trauma and the more your skin is exposed to UV radiation, the greater your risk of skin cancer."
Research shows that using solariums before the age of 35 boosts the risk of melanoma by 59%.
It has been estimated that each year in Australia, 281 new melanoma cases, 43 melanoma-related deaths, and 2,572 new cases of squamous cell carcinoma are attributable to solarium use, at a cost to the health system of around $3 million. In Victoria, 51 new melanomas, 7 deaths and 294 new cases of squamous cell carcinoma are attributed to solarium use.
The research examined Google's public database of search terms, identifying and monitoring key search criteria including ‘solarium/s, sunbeds, tanning beds' in Victoria from 2004 to 2012.