Call to ban tanning beds amid 'exponential rise' in melanoma cases

Professor Caitriona Ryan said even one session on a sunbed increases the risk of skin cancer by 60%
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

09.07 26 Feb 2024

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Call to ban tanning beds amid...

Call to ban tanning beds amid 'exponential rise' in melanoma cases

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

09.07 26 Feb 2024

Share this article

Tanning beds should be banned amid an ongoing surge in skin cancer cases, according to a leading dermatologist.

Professor Caitriona Ryan is warning that even one session on a sunbed can increase the risk of skin cancer by 60%.

Under the current law, you have to be 18 years old to use a sunbed; however, Professor Ryan is now calling for an outright ban.


She told Newstalk Breakfast there is no safe limit on indoor sunbed use.

"I think people often think that using a tanning bed is very similar to going out and sunbathing," she said.

"We don't want anyone to be out sunbathing either and burning their skin, but a tanning bed is a much more serious source of UVA.

"It's the type of UV that creates much more DNA damage."

Prof Ryan said she would "love to see them banned".

'Doubled in the last decade'

Prof Ryan said this means mutations on your skin "can really increase your risk of skin cancer, particularly the fatal type of skin cancer called melanoma".

"The rates [of melanoma] have doubled over the last decade - they're over 1,000 a year.

"The issue with the melanoma is if it's caught early, it can be cut out and people can do well.

"If it has travelled further into the lymph nodes and elsewhere, it can often be a fatal disease.

"It's a disease of younger people and we've seen an exponential rise in it.

"We really think it's because of the huge amount of sunbed use that went on in the '80s and '90s.

"We see a huge, impact of that now.

"Even one session on a sunbed increases your risk of melanoma by 60%."

Fake tan

Prof Ryan said the use of fake tan has really helped.

"People who would've gone to use a sunbed to keep their tan topped up a lot of the time now are using fake tan instead," she said.

"It's something we really welcome as dermatologists."

Interior of a tanning bed. Interior of a tanning bed. Image: dpa picture alliance archive / Alamy

Prof Ryan said she has also seen an increase in men using tanning beds.

"Women are sort of moving towards using fake tan, men don't use that," he said.

"They've become much more image obsessed and body obsessed... but they all want to have this tan," she added.

Skin cancer is the most common cause of cancer in Ireland.

Figures indicate that there are approximately 8,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer every year and 800 cases of malignant melanoma.

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Main image: A man using a tanning bed. Image: Shotshop GmbH / Alamy

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