Liverpool goes to war on skin cancer and sunbeds

Many factors contribute to high sunbed use

What is it about Liverpool that makes the incidence of skin cancer so high? Many in the city believe it is due to a culture that believes having a year round tan looks healthy and the pressure to look good that results from the constant exposure to suntanned celebrities and models is to blame. This can’t however be the only reason. It is interesting to note that a recent study of levels of poverty and cancer undertaken by Christie Hospital in Manchester revealed that the middle classes are more likely to develop skin cancer than the less well off. Despite the fact Liverpool has 5 of the 10 most deprived areas in England, they are still seeing well above average incidence of skin cancer.

Lack of sunbed regulation to blame

Liverpool Council and North West Cancer Research (NWCR) and laying the blame on the lack of regulation of sunbeds, specifically coin operated sunbeds as these are particularly difficult to monitor and inspect. A coin operated sunbed can easily be operated by under 18s (despite recent legislation by government to protect under 18s), there is little if any control over the duration of a session and the frequency of use is not usually monitored. It is for this reason that a cross party group of MPs is currently calling for them to be banned.

Dr Sandra Davies, Interim Director of Public Health at Liverpool City Council told the Liverpool Express that “Many women in Liverpool who are at increased risk of skin cancer – due to their age, skin type or frequency of using sunbeds – are using sunbeds without an understanding of their risks and this is extremely concerning.”

It is interesting to note that sunbeds are not licensed except in Scotland, Wales and London which is why Liverpool Council has started an e-petition to try and get the issue of regulation and licensing raised in parliament. Why such regulations don’t exist is difficult to understand when all tattoo parlours and ear piecing venues have to be licensed by the local authority. Why not sunbeds which can be argued, are far more dangerous? Cancer Research UK has stated that for first time sunbed users under 35, they raise their chances of developing melanoma by 60%!

Steps in place to raise awareness of skin cancer and danger of sunbeds

In addition to the Liverpool Council campaign, NWCR has been running a “Scrap Sunbeds” campaign specifically targeting sunbeds in health centres and gyms. They are also running a “We need to talk about skin cancer” day on 30th May with the aim of raising awareness about skin cancer in the North West area.

To find out more about the problems of sunbeds and skin cancer in Liverpool:

Read Justine’s Story – a former sunbed user from Liverpool

Find out more about the shocking skin cancer statistics in Liverpool and the North West

Find out more about the Liverpool Council survey on skin cancer