Are sunbeds safe?

Is it safe to use sunbeds? The short answer is “NO”.

Research has proven that sunbeds give off the same harmful UVA and UVB radiation as the sun, damaging the DNA in your skin cells. If enough DNA damage builds up over time, it can cause cells to start growing out of control, which can lead to all types of skin cancer.

Some people see sunbeds as a controlled way of getting a ‘safer tan', or as a means of preparing their skin before going on holiday. But a tan is a reaction to damage in skin cells when it is exposed to too much UV radiation. There is no such thing as a safe tan.

It is estimated that sunbeds cause around 100 deaths from melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) in the UK each year, with cases rising at an alarming rate. Experts link the dramatic rise in the incidence of melanoma in young adults to those who use sunbeds. Sunbeds are now banned for those under the age of 18.

Evidence shows that:

  • The intensity of some types of UV rays from sunbeds can be up to 10–15 times higher than that of the midday sun.
  • The average skin cancer risk from sunbeds can be more than double that of spending the same length of time in the Mediterranean midday summer sun.
  • Using a sunbed just once a month can increase your risk of skin cancer by more than half.
  • Regular sunbed use under the age of 35 years increases the risk of skin cancer by an alarming 75%.

Sunbed use can also be harmful to eyesight. Without suitable eye protection, UV radiation from sunbeds can damage your eyes, risking inflammation, cataract formation, and even eye cancer. Moreover, far from improving your looks, sunbeds cause premature ageing, sagging, wrinkling and blotching of the skin. The damage caused by UV radiation continues to affect the skin, even after the tan fades. 

Remember, every time you use a sunbed you are damaging your skin and increasing your risk of melanoma.

For more information about the risk factors and symptoms of skin cancer, click here. If you are concerned about any moles or lesions then consult your GP or Check4Cancer immediately, or find out about our skin cancer screening services here.