Sydney, June 7 (ANI): Experts have once again called for tanning beds to be banned after a startling new research confirmed they dramatically increase the risk of skin cancer.
The study is the first of its kind to examine all types of tanning beds and comes only months after an audit of salons across Sydney showed most operators were flouting regulations by exposing customers to excessive doses of UV radiation, and treating children and fair-skinned adults.
But the state government has refused to ban the beds, despite calls from the NSW Greens.
The research found that those using beds emitting UVA rays were almost four times more likely to develop melanomas, while those using beds with mostly UVB rays were almost three times more at risk than people not using tanning beds.
A professor in public health at the University of Sydney, Simon Chapman, this week launched a petition to have tanning beds banned, saying they exposed people to "turbocharged UV doses that have no place in any community that takes cancer prevention seriously".
"Twice now this industry has been shown to have completely unacceptable levels of non-compliance," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Chapman as saying.
"Really, if a Caucasian person wants a dark complexion there are other ways to go about it without endangering themselves," he stated.
After the death of melanoma patient and tanning salon client Clare Oliver, 26, in 2007, mandatory state regulations were introduced but an audit last year found most were not compliant.
The audit of 89 salons in Sydney, carried out by the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water, found 21 were not adjusting tanning levels to skin types, 20 were allowing people under 18 to use the beds, 24 were not obtaining written consent and 41 were not limiting exposure time.
More than a third were also allowing people to use the tanning beds without eye protection and two-thirds had no warning signs in place.
Jay Allen, 35, from Ambarvale in Sydney's south-west, was diagnosed with melanoma two years ago after he saw his doctor about an itchy mole on his left ankle.
The former truck driver and father of three had used a tanning salon about 30 times in three years, unaware of any danger.
"I was really frying myself. Sometimes I'd have double sessions because I had no idea of the damage it could do," he revealed.
But by the time he was diagnosed, his mole was almost 2 centimetres deep and the cancer had spread to lymph nodes in his groin, requiring urgent surgery.
Allen has had to quit work because he now suffers lymphodoema and must undergo three-monthly check-ups.
"I'm constantly terrified the cancer will return. I have panic attacks about it all the time. These are killing machines and somebody has to stand up and make a point," he stated.
"I'm still here and I will continue with Clare Oliver's legacy until I see the end of sun beds," he said.
Allen started legal action last year against Fitness First, where he had his regular tanning sessions, for not informing him of the dangers.
"They should have had very graphic signs up like you see on cigarette packs. Then other people would not have had to endure what I have," he added.
The findings have been published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. (ANI)