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Ban on under 18s using sunbeds ‘could save lives’

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Avoid sunbeds says Rebecca Russell, of SunSmart, the skin-cancer prevention campaign

Avoid sunbeds says Rebecca Russell, of SunSmart, the skin-cancer prevention campaign

Caroline Connor's obsession with getting a tan almost left her with permanent skin damage after a sun bed session went wrong

Caroline Connor's obsession with getting a tan almost left her with permanent skin damage after a sun bed session went wrong

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Avoid sunbeds says Rebecca Russell, of SunSmart, the skin-cancer prevention campaign

A ban on children and young people using sunbeds should save lives, a leading Northern Ireland cancer charity has argued.

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey has launched a public consultation into the regulation of the sunbed industry here.

That includes looking at the possibility of banning under 18s from using tanning salons.

Sandra Gordon, melanoma strategy co-ordinator with the |Ulster Cancer Foundation, has welcomed the move.

But she said the government must work swiftly to ensure that any new legislation is passed before the next Assembly elections in May 2011. Ms Gordon said she is concerned the current momentum on the issue may be lost.

In Scotland, the law bans under-18s from using sunbeds and a similar move has been proposed in England and Wales — meaning Northern Ireland is the last region in the UK to move on the subject.

There is growing evidence that links sunbed usage with the development of skin cancers, and the contribution of sunbeds to malignant melanoma has been estimated to 100 deaths per year in the UK.

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There are two types of skin cancer. Malignant melanoma is the less common type but spreads more rapidly.

In Northern Ireland, the incidence of recorded malignant melanoma skin cancer cases has increased over the past 25 years, from around 80 cases in 1984 to 233 in 2007.

Non-melanoma is the most common cancer in the UK.

Nearly 2,800 non-melanoma skin cancers were diagnosed in Northern Ireland in 2007 — making it the most common type |of cancer diagnosed in the province.


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