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Skin cancer charity calls for total ban on sunbeds

Skin cancer charity calls for total ban on sunbeds

Tuesday 23 October 2018

Skin cancer charity calls for total ban on sunbeds

Tuesday 23 October 2018

A local skin cancer charity is calling for a total ban on sunbeds in Jersey after it emerged that as many of one in five island teens had used them.

Kerry Petulla, Chair of the Donna Annand Melanoma Charity, says that while islanders are now more aware of the charity's preventative messages about the dangers of sun damage, there are still too many people not heeding the warnings.

The charity was created in memory of Donna after she passed away in 2011 from a malignant melanoma.

Donna wanted people to be aware of the dangers of melanoma and that early detection of the disease is key and her family and friends have been campaigning ever since to fulfill her wish. The charity has been organising frequent pop-up mole clinics for islanders to get their moles checked up and delivering training to GPs so that they can spot any suspicious lesion. Next month, the charity will be hosting a session at L'Horizon Hotel for hairdressers, beauticians, tattoo artists and physiotherapists to have their eyes trained in spotting melanoma and other skin cancers.

Video: While islanders are more aware of the signs and symptoms of melanoma - the deadliest form of skin cancer - as told by Alan the mole, they still haven't caught up on the ways to prevent it.

Ms Petulla says all of this has contributed to improve people's awareness in terms of UV index and its strength in Jersey. But while some people have actually put the advice into practice, some are still failing to act and getting burned in the sun. Ms Petulla said: "When we are out at events to raise awareness, we offer suncream to people. We still have people say they don't need it.

"We need a different approach to actually get the behaviours changing. We need continued awareness but also for people to buy into the message."

The charity Chair says that behaviour change could be driven through changes in public policies and legislation. She also thinks that Jersey would be the perfect place to do this as the sun is so strong in the island, which is also one of the sunniest place in the British Isles. She said: "Jersey could take the lead in sun awareness. Policy change has worked and it is required.

"We have a strong message but we are all passionate about it because of Donna!"

Jersey School Survey Year 10 and 12 on sunbeds

Pictured: Students in Year 10 and 12 were asked about their use of sunbeds.

One of the changes Ms Petulla would like to see implemented is a ban on sunbeds. She says she was shocked to read in the latest Jersey School Survey Report that one in five (19%) of Year 10 and Year 12s have used sunbeds. The survey showed that a higher proportion of males had used sunbeds than females and that 66% of those who had said they used sunbeds had done so in private homes, with the remaining 34% split between health clubs, gyms and tanning salons.

Dr Anna Kukula M.D, PhD, a Dermatology Consultant explained that the intensity of UV emitted by commercial sunbeds has increased in recent years. Nowadays, their skin cancer risks are often equivalent to Mediterranean summer sunlight.

She said: “Sunbed use and overexposure to the sun can be a risk to the skin at any age, however a review by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found that first exposure to sunbeds before the age of 35 years increases the risk of melanoma by 75 per cent. The World Health Organisation classifies sunbeds as a “Group 1 carcinogen."

“British Association of Dermatologists recommends that advertising materials claiming health benefits of sunbed use should be prohibited. There are no potential health benefits that cannot be more safely and effectively obtained through other means, and any health benefits are debatable, thus such claims should be prevented.”

Ms Petulla said: "I would like sunbeds to be completely banned. The intensity of UV that you receive is quite staggering and it really increases the risks of skin cancer. Of course, people in a young age bracket are even more at risk. Australia has banned and Jersey should do it too."

sunbed tanning bed tanning salon

Pictured:Ms Petulla says the intensity of UV in a sunbed is "quite staggering."

The charity Chair would also like policies implemented to make sure teachers apply sun cream on children before they go onto the playground. She explained: "Some playgrounds don't have sun shelters. Sun cream is applied in the morning by the parents but it is not required for them to wear it, when they go out. It is fantastic that schools have plans to raise awareness, but again a policy is needed to change behaviour.

"It is hoped that whatever we teach the children they will take into their adult life. If you look at it, it wasn't always in the law to wear your seat belt but today you wouldn't think twice about it. Sometimes legislative changes are needed to drive people's behaviour."

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