Resort women still ‘ignorant of sunbed risk’

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Women in Blackpool are still putting their lives at risk for the sake of a tan, public health bosses in the town have warned.

It comes after a survey of 408 resort women found fewer than half were aware of the specific cancer risk using a sunbed poses.

Emma Lyons, who was diagnosed with melanoma after using sunbeds as a teen, with her daughter Phoebe

Emma Lyons, who was diagnosed with melanoma after using sunbeds as a teen, with her daughter Phoebe

Dr Arif Rajpura, director of public health in Blackpool, said: “Sunbeds are incredibly dangerous due to their intense UV rays and, despite the risks, our research shows women are still choosing to use them.

“What’s particularly alarming is that using a sunbed for the first time before the age of 35 increases your risk of developing melanoma - a deadly form of skin cancer - by nearly 60 per cent.”

The ultraviolet (UV) rays given out by sunbeds can damage skin, and leave it looking wrinkled, older, or leathery, experts say.

They can also damage the DNA in skin cells, which can cause skin cancer in later life, though Michelle Forsyth, from the skin cancer team at Clifton Hospital, warned earlier this year how an increasing number of young people are being diagnosed.

She said: “It’s very scary when we are seeing so many younger people coming to clinic with worrisome lesions.

“Education and raising awareness is important to try and reduce the numbers of youngsters coming to us year on year. The dangers of using sunbeds is a huge problem, especially with younger people.

“We need everyone to be aware they need to protect their skin. It’s so preventable and often treatable, but early detection remains paramount.

“We need everyone to be aware they need to protect their skin. The dangerous rays are not only responsible for skin cancer, but also premature ageing.”

From 2010 to 2014, there were an average of 43 new cases of malignant melanoma in Blackpool a year, higher than the national average.

Mum-of-two Emma Lyons, 37, was diagnosed after using sunbeds once a week when she was a teenager.

At the age of 21, she found a mole that grew from a tiny dot to around 55. It was black, bur regular shaped and even.

She said: “I went to see my GP who wasn’t concerned but I asked if I could get it checked by a dermatologist and luckily they referred me to the hospital. A couple of days later they told me it was melanoma. It was such a shock.

“I think a lot of people think skin cancer isn’t as ‘serious’ as other cancers but melanoma is life-threatening. I find it hard to believe people still use sunbeds – I will never use one again.”

Amy Cross, the councillor responsible for tackling the resort’s health worries, added: “Our campaign aims to send out a strong and emotive message to young women about how dangerous sunbeds are.”