New research underlines need for WA to follow suit on solarium ban

January 30, 2014

New research published today estimates around 18,000 skin cancers in Australia (around 1,800 in WA) are caused annually by solarium use.

Director of Education and Research at Cancer Council WA Terry Slevin said the research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Dermatology) adds weight to calls for a ban on solariums in WA.

“Removing these machines from the local shopping centres, gyms, beauty parlours and main streets of WA is an important next logical step in our battle to reduce skin cancer in WA,” said Mr Slevin. 

Mr Slevin also applauded industry consultation initiated by the Minister for Health, the Hon Dr Kim Hames MLA. Business owners have until the end of next month to respond to a letter from the Department of Health asking why a ban should not come into effect in WA at the beginning of next year.

Mr Slevin said the consultation was an excellent way to engage the 31 commercial solarium operators in WA, none of whom was known to rely on solariums as a sole source of income.

“If the ban does not proceed in WA, we will remain the only state in the country that allows these machines that are proven to increase skin cancer risk, to operate.

“That is not an acceptable outcome,” said Mr Slevin, “but we are confident the Minister for Health will do the right thing and follow through with a ban.”

The World Health Organisation categorises sun beds as a known cause of cancer in humans.

 “We urge the Minister to proceed with the ban and ensure that WA joins the rest of the country on solarium policy. 

“It is important to ensure that the entire nation has a consistent and sensible plan to remove commercial sun bed operations from all of Australia at the end of this year,” he said.

Mr Slevin said while the Cancer Council UV campaign reminds us to be SunSmart at UV 3, UV exposure in a solarium rose to 60.

In 2011 there were over 1100 cases of melanoma and about 76,000 non melanoma skin cancers diagnosed and treated in WA. 

Conservatively it is believed that treating the skin cancers caused by UV exposure in solariums cost over $3million per year nationally.  With these new estimates on the number of skin cancers caused by sunbeds, that figure is likely to be much higher.

For further information on solarium use visit http://www.cancerwa.asn.au/prevention/sunsmart/solarium-tanning/


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