Last updated at 15:38 BST, Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Sunbeds

June 2009

Do you prefer to be fair or bronzed? This month we report on the dangers of sunbeds. Click below to listen:

Read the story:

In the UK, a country known for its bad weather and lack of sunshine, there appears to be an ever increasing number of very tanned young people. So just how are they achieving their golden tans? Some are opting for the sun-free option and are getting their tan from a bottle. However, it appears that others are turning to tanning salons, of which there are thousands in the UK.

So why do the British prefer to be bronzed? Often, they are trying to emulate their favourite celebrities, footballers, or footballers’ wives. Research from the British Sunbed Association suggests that many people believe a tan makes them feel and look healthier.

This is a belief that is most definitely not shared by Cancer Research UK. They firmly state that being tanned is not a sign of health. In fact, they are strongly against young people using sunbeds. On their website, they state that people who use sunbeds before the age of 35 have a higher risk of melanoma.

The dangers of tanning did not appear to concern ten-year-old Kelly Thompson who hit headlines in April after receiving severe burns from spending 16 minutes on a sunbed. Kelly’s mother was horrified that her daughter had been allowed to use the sunbeds and that the tanning salon was unmanned. She noted that: “There was no one to give advice on using these potentially dangerous machines.”

Whether the British government has been taking heed of such recent tanning tragedies is not clear. What is clear however is that self-regulation in the sunbed industry looks unlikely to continue. Just after Kelly’s story was reported in the news, the government issued a statement advising that people under 18 should not use sunbeds and that all salons should be supervised by trained staff.

Glossary

tanned
when your skin becomes darker as a result of being exposed to the sun
tanning salons
places that offer their clients an opportunity to use sunbeds (see below)
bronzed
a synonym of tanned (see above)
to emulate
to copy what someone else, usually a well-known person, does
sunbed
an apparatus that looks like a bed with a special cover that emits rays of ultraviolet light, so if you lie on it, you develop a tan
melanoma
the most dangerous type of skin cancer
hit headlines
was widely talked about by the media
horrified
shocked, disgusted and dismayed
was unmanned
this means that no member of staff was present at the time
taking heed of
paying attention to, taking into account
self-regulation
here, when tanning industry or even individual salons establish their own rules
supervised
monitored, watched (to make sure everything is done correctly and safely)