Sunbeds are 'as bad as smoking'

29/07/09

Girl with sunburn at this year's Glastonbury Festival

Sunbeds are as bad for you as smoking, according to a top team of international scientists.

They say tanning under UV lights definitely causes cancer. Until now they only thought it "probably" did.

The team, writing in medical journal Lancet Oncology, also say it's young people most at risk.

Nineteen-year-old Donna May works at a cafe in Liverpool and has started using sunbeds recently.

She told Newsbeat: "I go two or three times a week for 12 minutes after work.

Donna, sunbed user
Donna is using sunbeds because 'white doesn't look right'

"I know the risks but I just like the tan. I don't want to look white, it doesn't look right.

"I want to go a bit browner, say, the colour of milky coffee."

The research was done for the World Health Organisation and shows for the first time there's a definite link between using sunbeds and getting cancer.

Sarah Woolnough from Cancer Research UK said: "Sunbeds can be incredibly powerful and can emit UV equivalent to the Mediterranean sun or even a higher dose."

Age limit

They're calling for an age limit on tanning salons of 18 and above, which already happens in Scotland.

Rebecca's a hairdresser from Liverpool who uses sunbeds.

She said: "At the age ot 16 you're going to do what you want anyway. So to put the age up, people still go out and do it."

Kathy Banks, chief executive of the Sunbed Association doesn't agree with the findings of the research, and says people can sunbathe safely in a tanning booth.

She said: "There was some studies carried out that actually showed that if there was any association between sunbed use and skin cancer, it was absoultely marginal.

"What we can do is to ensure that people coming into tanning salons are given good advice. If that happens then it does help to minimise the risk of skin damage."