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The Sunbed Debate: Health Over Tans

In the ongoing battle against skin cancer, Scottish National Party (SN) member Amy Callaghan has recently made a compelling call for the end of tanning salons on high streets.

The imitative is part of a broader effort to reduce the incidence of skin cancer in Scotland, aligning with the government’s “heat targets” which prioritises public health concerns. As we approach the holiday season, many individuals seek that bronzed glow but may not fully grasp the risks associated with sunbed use.


Skin cancer remains a significant public health challenge, with melanoma rates in Scotland being among the highest in Europe. Tanning salons, which offer artificial UV exposure, have long been a subject of debate due to their potential contribution to skin cancer cases. Being a melanoma survivor herself, Callaghan calls for following Australia's footsteps and banning commercial solariums.


Skin Cancer UK has also raised concerns about the impact of tanning salons on the younger population. Many young people, particularly teenagers, are drawn to sunbeds as a quick way to achieve a tan. However, this desire for a sun-kissed appearance can come at a steep price in terms of long-term health risks. Educating young individuals about the dangers of UV exposure from both natural sunlight and artificial sources like sunbeds is crucial in reducing the rates of skin cancer cases. The NHS (National Health Service) warned that frequent exposure to UV rays under 25 leads to a greater risk of developing skin cancer in later life and sunburn in childhood.


The allure of a tan often overshadows concerns about skin damage and cancer risk, highlighting the need for continued public awareness campaigns and regulatory measures. The East Dunbartonshire MP has constantly called on the UK Government to remove VAT from sunscreen products to make them more affordable and accessible to the public.


A spokesperson from the Department of Health and Social Care emphasised the dangers of UV radiation from sunbeds, especially for young individuals, in contributing to skin cancer. The spokesperson highlighted the Sunbeds Act's prohibition of individuals under 18 from using sunbeds and assured that the Act undergoes regular evaluations to ensure its effectiveness. They also urged anyone contemplating sunbed use to carefully consider the associated risks beforehand.


Reference: MSN – ‘Scottish MP calls for end of tanning salons on high streets to reduce skin cancer.’