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  • Strong action on solaria will save lives

    11 November 2013

    It is estimated that each year 200 cases of melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma in South Australia will be prevented following the State Government’s introduction of Regulations for a total ban on commercial solaria.

    Cancer Council SA has welcomed today’s action by the South Australian Government, ensuring all commercial solaria are banned in South Australia from 31 December 2014.

    The Regulations made today follow the Government’s promise last year to implement a ban.

    “We are very pleased to see the Government follow up on their commitment to ban solaria, which is a significant step forward in the fight to beat cancer and will save South Australian lives,” said Professor Brenda Wilson, Chief Executive, Cancer Council SA.

    “South Australia was the second state in Australia to announce the ban on solaria, a courageous move which has now contributed to a national ban. With the widespread consensus about the deadly impact of indoor tanning, we are proud that South Australia along with New South Wales, led the nation.

    “Solaria have been very popular with young people. However, global evidence continues to show that they are a serious health risk, with the International Agency for Research on Cancer labelling UV emitting tanning beds as carcinogenic to humans, in the same category as asbestos and cigarettes.”

    A systematic review of the research on the link between skin cancer and solarium use concluded that the risk of skin cancer from any sunbed use was 20% which rose to 59% if exposure was before 35 years of age.

    This risk increases with number of sunbed sessions, with a 1.8% increase in risk for each additional sunbed session per year.

    “Solaria emit levels of UV radiation up to three times as strong as the midday summer sun, with some (about 15%) exceeding this level and some emitting UVA radiation up to six times as strong,” Professor Wilson added.

    “Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world and we know that the people exposing themselves to the risk of solaria most frequently are young and female.”

    28 year-old Donna Schwartz is one young woman who discovered the dangerous impact of using solaria.

    “At 22, I was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma on the side of my leg and after it was removed the doctors told me that if I had left it two weeks longer the cancer would have spread to my bloodstream,” Donna said.

    “There is so much pressure on image and as a solution to getting the sun-kissed look I chose to use solariums.

    “I didn’t understand the risks, didn’t receive any warnings and never considered getting cancer. 

    “I had two invasive surgeries, it was incredibly painful and it took some time before I could walk properly, but I was one of the fortunate ones.”

    Plastic and Reconstructive surgeon, Dr Amy Jeeves, who specialises in melanoma, has seen the impact of solarium use on an all too frequent basis.

    “Every week I see the devastating effect the diagnosis and treatment of melanoma has on patients and their families,” Dr Jeeves said.

    “Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, and is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australians aged 15-29.

    “This ban is necessary to reduce the number of skin cancers that solaria cause and to save the lives of South Australians.

    “I am delighted that South Australia is taking a proactive role in reducing the risk of cancers in our vulnerable population.”

    Key facts and figures:
    • Over 280,000 Australians were exposed to UV radiation from solaria in 2006.
    • Young women are the most frequent users of solaria in Australia.
    • It is estimated 1 in 6 melanomas in young people aged 18 to 29-years-old could be prevented in Australia by avoiding the use of solaria.
    • There’s nothing healthy about a tan and unprotected exposure to UV radiation is not safe.
    • It has been estimated that each year in Australia, 281 new melanoma cases, 43 melanoma-related deaths, and 2,572 new cases of squamous cell carcinoma are attributable to solarium use.

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