New report confirms solarium cancer danger

Thursday 30 July, 2009

A new international report has upgraded the cancer risk from solariums to the highest risk category, alongside tobacco and asbestos.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has raised the classification of sunbeds to the highest level: group 1-‘carcinogenic to humans'.

The IARC is responsible for research and strategies for cancer prevention and control on behalf of the World Health Organisation (WHO). The report will appear in the August edition of The Lancet Oncology (www.thelancet.com).

Solariums emit ultraviolet (UV) radiation up to three times stronger than the midday summer sun.

Craig Sinclair, Director of the Cancer Prevention Centre at Cancer Council Victoria, welcomed the recognition that sunbeds are carcinogenic.

"The report reinforces the important work already undertaken in Victoria to impose strict controls of the sunbed industry including banning under 18s."

"There is a proven link between the use of sunbeds and skin cancer, with people who use a solarium before the age of 35 having a 75 per cent greater risk of melanoma than those who don't use a solarium."

"The evaluation now made by the IARC is the most authoritative and unequivocal statement that these devices cause cancer."

"This should be another warning to sunbed users that there is no such thing as a safe tan. Now more than ever, this report highlights the dangers associated with sunbed use," Mr Sinclair said.

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Statistics in Australia

  • People who use a solarium before the age of 35 have a 75 per cent greater risk of melanoma than those who don't use solariums.
  • In Australia, 281 melanoma cases, 43 melanoma-related deaths and 2572 new cases of squamous cell carcinoma were estimated to be attributable to solarium use each year.
  • More than 1,600 Australians die every year from skin cancer.
  • At least 2 out of 3 Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70.