Self Confidence from Sun (and Skin Cancer)
The report “Self Confidence from Sun” was in the newspaper ‘Spits kopt’ last Monday. This emerged from market research on behalf of the tanning studio chain, Sunday’s. The comments made here were that, provided that you become tanned sensibly, there won’t be any health risks involved. At the end of last week I was called by a reporter from the Spits to ask my opinion on this. I definitely have something to say about this! Skin cancer is a very, very real threat.
UVA or UVB rays
Sunbeds radiate relatively little UVB and a lot of UVA. It is often thought that the UVB rays are the cause of the problems. This is a big misconception. UVA rays are possibly even more harmful than UVB rays. UVA rays penetrate more deeply into the skin and, in this way, can age the skin more quickly and damage the DNA. UVA rays can penetrate through glass and are less filtered out by clouds. UVA rays are present throughout the year and their strength is relatively independent of the time of day or the season of the year. This is also the reason why Dermatologists recommend using a minimum of SPF 15 daily, even in the winter. Unlike UVB rays, you do not burn from UVA rays. You therefore don’t get any warning signs from your skin. The factor displayed on your sun cream concerns the UVB rays. Make sure then that you choose a sun cream which also contains a UVA filter. If present, it will be displayed on the product.
UVA rays under the sunbed
“There is no evidence to suggest that any type of sunbed is less harmful than natural sun exposure”(Report World Health Organisation 2003). Clear words. Another report has shown that after 20 visits to the sunbed you receive between 0.3 and 1.2 times the UVA rays that you normally get in a year from the sun. So for someone who regularly uses a sunbed (100 sessions per year) , this is even 1.2 to 4.7 times the yearly UVA rays and with the newer tubes this can even amount to as much as 12 times as many (report on carcinogens). So this means huge amounts of additional UVA rays.
Skin cancer is caused by UV rays. The most dangerous form of skin cancer is melanoma. Whichever scientific article you read, the conclusion is always the same: Exposure to UV lamps in a sunbed increases the risk of getting melanoma. We know from Scandinavian studies in 2003, that going to a sunbed once a month increases the chances by 55 per cent. In a news report from July 2009 it stated: ‘the researchers claim that the chances of skin cancer forming increases by 75% in people who regularly use a sunbed before the age of thirty’. A study review in 2007 also demonstrated a clear connection; 19 different investigations confirm that the use of sunbeds, even if only once, have been associated with melanoma (abstract). That’s incredible isn’t it?
The story in de spits is discussed in ‘de viva’ blog. Conclusion? Yet again, just use a sun cream…
(Dr. Jetske Ultee-Research Physician Cosmetic Dermatology)