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HomeAus & NZSunbed operators caught ignoring melanoma risks

Sunbed operators caught ignoring melanoma risks

'Quick read' news summary

Sunbed operators have been caught rejecting official health advice and letting people with very fair skin – so at higher risk of melanoma – use their services.

Consumer NZ says a recent ‘mystery shop’ uncovered seven outlets willing to let people with ‘type 1’ fair skin use sunbeds, exposing them to UV radiation stronger than that from the sun.

“People who use a sunbed have a 20 percent greater risk of melanoma than people who have never used a sunbed,” Consumer’s Belinda Castles said.

“The risk is even greater for fair-skinned people; they should never use a sunbed because of the significant risk posed.”

According to the Ministry of Health sunbeds should not be used by anyone that has “pale skin that doesn’t tan easily, or lots of freckles and moles” or that “have had skin cancer before”.

There is a questionnaire to determine what type of skin someone has.

“The questionnaire asks about genetic factors, such as eye, hair and skin colour, reaction to sun exposure, and tanning habits,” Castles said. “Points are allocated for each question and the total score determines a person’s skin type. A score of 0 to 7 is skin type 1.”

The ministry said people with type 1 skin should never use a sunbed, but its formal guidelines are only voluntary.

Consumer NZ visited sunbed operators in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington.

Two of the eight operators in Auckland let a fair-skinned mystery shopper use a sunbed, despite their skin.

Two operators in Christchurch told sunbed users to “take it slowly, but they shouldn’t have been allowed one at all”, while half of all Wellington sunbed operators were happy to ignore the guidelines.

“One Wellington operator didn’t provide a consent form or skin assessment,” Castles said. “Two other operators in the capital provided dodgy advice about the length of time our shopper could spend on a

Sunbed operators have been caught rejecting official health advice and letting people with very fair skin - so at higher risk of melanoma - use their services. "People who use a sunbed have a 20 percent greater risk of melanoma than people who have never used a sunbed," Consumer's Belinda Castles said. The ministry said people with type 1 skin should never use a sunbed, but its formal guidelines are only voluntary.

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