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Cancer News and Information

Government announces ban on tanning units in NSW: Cancer Institute NSW responds

The Cancer Institute NSW welcomes the NSW Government’s decision to amend the radiation control legislation, making the commercial use of tanning units (solaria) illegal in NSW, believing the move will lessen the burden of skin cancer in NSW.

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"Australia has the highest rate of melanoma in the world. This legislation sends a clear message to people across NSW - there is no safe level of solaria use to get a tan for anyone, under any circumstances.

"This ban on solaria is a fitting response to the World Health Organisation's classification of tanning units as a cause of cancer in humans, and this legislation sends a clear message to the world that NSW is prepared to take action to reduce the risk and incidence of cancer in our community," said Professor David Currow, Chief Cancer Officer and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW.

Melanoma is a particularly aggressive form of skin cancer, which is associated with solaria use. In an Australian study, among people with early onset melanoma, it was found three-quarters of these cancers were associated with solaria use. "There is no safe level of solaria use to get a tan, under any circumstances."

"People are shortening their lives for nothing more than a tan. We know that young people are most susceptible to the cancer-causing effects of solaria. This legislation is giving back years of life to those young people and their families who may have otherwise had that time taken away.

"We hope other Australian states and territories, as well as other countries follow the lead of the NSW Government in taking action to reduce the risk of cancer from solaria. These tanning units can emit up to six times the levels of UV from the midday sun, so you are dramatically increasing your risk of melanoma.

"There is nothing healthy about a tan - from solaria or otherwise. It is important that people also continue to take steps to protect their skin from UV exposure from the sun by seeking shade, using sunscreen, and wearing a hat, sunglasses and protective clothing," said Professor Currow.

Background in brief: Skin cancer in NSW

  • Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer, and is the fourth most common cancer in NSW.
  • In 2011, the Cancer Institute NSW estimates there were 4,351 new cases of melanoma, and 522 people died as a result of this cancer.
  • One in 13 males and one in 24 females will develop melanoma by the age of 85.
  • Exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) is the primary risk factor for melanoma. Risk is increased in people who use solaria.

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