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Sunsmart Organisations Slate Solariums

Sunsmart Organisations Slate Solariums

The Cancer Society of New Zealand, The Cancer Council Australia and The Australasian College of Dermatologists, have issued a joint statement warning people against the use of solariums for cosmetic tanning purposes.

Released in New Zealand to coincide with Sunsmart Week, (November 10 –17) the statement says, “All forms of ultraviolet radiation contribute to skin cancer, and a solarium tan is induced by ultraviolet radiation. Therefore, The Australasian College of Dermatologists, The Cancer Council Australia and the Cancer Society of New Zealand do not support cosmetic tanning in solariums under any circumstance”

Cancer Society SunSmart spokesperson Wendy Billingsley says the organisations have agreed the general public should be informed of the risks associated with solarium use. They also agree that state and national governments should be encouraged to consider the implementation of legislation to ensure customers are adequately informed of the health risks; ban unsupervised solariums; and enforce age restrictions according to the Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZ2636:2002.

The desire to acquire a tan for fashion or cosmetic purposes has led to the development of a large solarium industry in Australia and New Zealand.

Solariums emit ultraviolet UV-A and UV-B radiation, both known causes of skin cancer. In general, solariums predominantly emit UV-A, however in recent years, solariums have been manufactured to produce higher levels of UV-B to mimic the solar spectrum and higher levels of UV radiation intensity to speed tanning.

“There is good evidence to suggest that a small dose of UV-B used in conjunction with the high dose of UV-A as used in solariums is a cause of skin cancer,” Ms Billingsley says.

Overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and artificial sources is of considerable public health concern. UV radiation plays an important role in the development of skin cancer, cataracts and other eye conditions, and suppresses the immune system. Cumulative UV radiation also results in premature skin ageing.

“All good reasons for us to warn people not to use solariums,” Ms Billingsley says. “We recognise, however, that while solariums continue to be available to the public, there is a need for guidelines to reduce the risks associated with their use.”

Adverse health affects associated with sun exposure such as skin cancer and premature skin ageing have been well documented in international and national reports and peer reviewed medical journals.

There is also a clear relationship between solarium exposure and adverse health effects are documented below, Ms Billingsley says.

“There is increasing evidence from both experimental and epidemiological data that cumulative exposure to UV radiation increases the risk of skin cancers. Therefore the added exposure from UV radiation tanning appliances such as solariums is likely to add to the well-known consequences of sun exposure. There is no evidence to suggest that any type of solarium is less harmful than natural sun exposure.”

Those who will be at the highest risk of skin cancer later in life are people who have fair skin which always burns and never tans, and those under the age of 15 who have received large doses of ultraviolet radiation.

“We recommend those under the age of 15 be banned from solariums and those aged 15 to 18 use a solarium only with parental consent.

Pre-cancerous actinic keratoses and Bowen’s disease have also been reported in the sunlight-protected but solarium-exposed skin of fair-skinned users after just two to three years of regular solarium use.

Ultraviolet light such as from a solarium causes premature ageing of the skin, such as increased skin wrinkling, irregular pigmentation and altered skin texture and loss of skin elasticity. It is generally irreversible without cosmetic surgery.

Acute effects of UV radiation on the eye include photokeratitis (inflammation of the cornea and the iris), and photoconjunctivitis (an inflammation of the conjunctiva). Long-term effects may include the development of cataracts, pterygium (white or creamy opaque growth attached to the cornea), and squamous cell cancer of the conjunctiva.

Points to remember Ms Billingsley says include: No solarium can give a safe tan. Artificial ultraviolet radiation exposure such as from a solarium is not necessary for optimal vitamin D production in Australia or New Zealand. Solariums may emit much higher concentrations of UVR than the sun. The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) has issued a finding that all solarium operators have a duty of care to ensure solarium patrons are aware of the above risks involved with solarium use.

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