Manchester Uni Study Says Indoor Tanning Ban Would Cut Cancer Deaths
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Manchester Uni Study Says Indoor Tanning Ban Would Cut Cancer Deaths

Rachael Grealish May 13, 2022

A study from Manchester University shows an indoor tanning ban would cut deaths caused by melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.

The research, which was released on May 10, showed a ban of commercially available indoor tanning could lead to 1,206 fewer cases of melanoma and 207 fewer melanoma deaths over people’s lifetimes.

Rules on Tanning Beds

Although the International Agency for Research in Cancer in 2009 declared ‘the ultraviolet radiation from commercial indoor tanning devices causes cancer in humans’, it is still currently legal for anyone over the age of 18 to use indoor tanning devices  in the UK. 

Despite some evidence of decreasing use, the practice of indoor tanning is still widespread in many countries including the UK and in in England sunbed use is especially high in the north-west and in cities with greater social deprivation.

The popularity is thought to partly explain the unusually high rates of melanoma seen in young women from the north west. It’s also estimated there are around 62,000 children under 18 currently using sunbeds in England. 

Lives Saved And Pressure Lifted

The study, which was funded by the Manchester Cancer Research Centre and published in the British Journal of Dermatology, brought together an incredibly varied team needed to address the financial, social and clinical aspects of the skin cancer project

During the study it tracked what the projected impact on the 618,000 18-year-olds living in England in 2019 and found a ban on indoor tanning would result in 1,206 fewer cases of melanoma and 207 fewer melanoma deaths over their lifetimes .

Alongside this, a ban could result in 3,987 fewer cases of other more common types of skin cancer, which currently can be a huge pressure and burden on both the person impacted and NHS services.

Money saved

The study didn’t only look at the impact on lives and illness, but also the cost of NHS public information campaigns.

Basically, a policy to ban indoor tanning could save the NHS £700,000 resulting in a Net Monetary Benefit of £10.6m with a 99% likelihood that the ban with the information campaign would be cost-effective.

Paul Lorigan, a Professor of Oncology at The University of Manchester and Honorary Consultant Medical Oncologist at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘If the NHS invested in a public health campaign to support the ban on sunbeds, we estimate that melanoma and other skin cancers would be significantly reduced, NHS resources would be saved and deaths averted.

‘It is quite clear that melanoma and keratinocyte skin cancers have a significant impact on population health and healthcare budgets, and that a proportion are attributable to indoor tanning. Anyone who has used a sunbed increases their risk of melanoma by almost 60% .

‘We show quite conclusively for the first time that banning indoor tanning supported by a public health campaign would be an efficient use of healthcare resources to reduce melanoma and other skin cancers in England.

‘Our findings agree with calculations of future productivity losses that were caused by these diseases in the USA in mainly young people in 2015 after exposure to tanning devices. There the total economic losses amounted to over $US127 billion over the individuals’ lifetimes.’

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Rachael is the Senior Content Editor at Freshered. She is NCTJ qualified with an MA in journalism. Rachael has almost ten years experience as a journalist in regional, national and international press and is passionate about creating engaging content.