There is no such thing as a safe tan – whether from the sun or a solarium. Tanning is a sign your skin cells are in trauma.
Even if a tan fades, the damage remains. The more you tan your skin, the greater your risk of skin cancer.
If you must have a tan, then use fake tan, but remember that sun protection is still required.
Solariums (also known as sunbeds) are machines that emit ultraviolet radiation. They are not a safe way to tan and they significantly increase your risk of cancer. It is therefore illegal to operate a commercial solarium in Australia.
The levels of UV radiation emitted from solariums can be up to six times as strong as the midday summer sun. People who use a solarium before the age of 35 have a 59% greater risk of melanoma than those who do not use solariums.
If you have ever used solariums, you will be at increased risk of skin cancer and may want to develop a skin cancer surveillance plan with your doctor.
Skin cancers linked to solarium use
In 2009, the International Agency for Research on Cancer re-classified solariums as a Group 1 carcinogen – in the same category as tobacco and asbestos.
Research published in 2008 found that 281 melanomas, 43 deaths, and 2,572 squamous cell carcinomas were attributable to solarium use in Australia each year, at a cost to the health system of around $3 million.
Commercial solarium ban
It is illegal to operate commercial solarium units in Victoria as of 1 January 2015.
This ban is the result of almost a decade of ongoing campaigning led by Cancer Councils across Australia, and our partners. This includes the ‘No tan is worth dying for’ campaign, featuring the story of Clare Oliver.
Commercial solarium operators are also banned in New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland and Western Australia. There are no commercial solariums operating in the Northern Territory.
Research conducted in the months leading up to and after, the Victorian solarium ban found it had led to a reduction in the availability of the machines for consumers.
Anyone who has information about alleged illegal solariums should contact the Department of Health and Human Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 1300 767 469.