One in five sunbed users are ADDICTED

One in five sunbed users may be ‘addicted’ to the habit, leading skin doctors have warned.

That’s despite the repeated health warnings over the years that UV rays are responsible for nearly all cases of skin cancer worldwide.

Skin cancer cases have soared more than seven-fold in the past 40 years. 

Sunbeds have fuelled a huge increase in all types of skin cancer, especially among young women with whom they are most popular with.

Now a new study has found that almost 20 per cent of users of tanning beds show symptoms of indoor tanning addiction.

Nina Goad, of the British Association of Dermatologists, said the findings were worrying and warned young people to take protect themselves.

Sunbeds – which research suggests may hook one in five users into addiction – have fuelled a huge increase in all types of skin cancer (file photo)

She said: ‘There is strong evidence that use of sunbeds increases the risk of skin cancers, including malignant melanoma, which is the most deadly type.

‘For people who start using sunbeds before the age of 35 years, the relative risk of malignant melanoma almost doubles.’

Key findings

A team of German and US researchers set out to test a new way to screen users for addiction. 

They surveyed 330 current users in Germany to examine their level of dependency, such as experience of diminished control over using a sunbed or urges or cravings for the experience. 

The 20 per cent that showed symptoms of a indoor tanning addiction compared with only almost two per cent of 553 former users of sunbeds who had not used one in the last year, discovered the study, published in the British Journal of Dermatology.

Ms Goad added: ‘If indoor tanning does indeed have addiction potential, being able to assess the scale of the problem will be imperative.

‘It certainly would help to explain why so many people continue to use sunbeds despite knowing the risks.’ 

Danger of UV rays 

UV rays are in sunlight and are responsible for around 95 per cent of melanoma cases and 99 per cent of the less severe type of the disease. 

Many of the patients being diagnosed today suffered cancer-causing sunburn in their youth, experts suggest.

And they warn the continuing obsession with sporting a tan will mean the toll keeps rising.  

The latest figures from Cancer Research UK show more than 15,000 people a year develop malignant melanoma – the most deadly type of skin cancer.  

The total is expected to surge to 20,000 a year by 2027. In 1975 the figure was just 1,800.

Malignant melanoma has become the fifth most common cancer in Britain, killing more than 2,000 people a year.

It is also the most common cancer in women in their 20s.

If caught early, it is treatable. If it spreads, even chemotherapy has little effect. 

What is melanoma and how can you prevent it? 

Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. It happens after the DNA in skin cells is damaged (typically due to harmful UV rays) and then not repaired so it triggers mutations that can form malignant tumors. 


  • Sun exposure: UV and UVB rays from the sun and tanning beds are harmful to the skin. 
  • Moles: The more moles you have, the greater the risk for getting melanoma. 
  • Skin type: Fairer skin has a higher risk for getting melanoma. 
  • Personal history: If you’ve had melanoma once then you are more likely to get it again.
  • Family history: If previous relatives have gotten it then that increases your risk. 


Removal of the melanoma:

This can be done by removing the entire section of the tumor or by the surgeon removing the skin layer by layer. When a surgeon removes it layer by layer, this helps them figure out exactly where the cancer stops so they don’t have to remove more than is necessary. 

Skin grafting: 

The patient can decide to use a skin graft if the surgery has left behind discoloration or an indent. 

Immunotherapy, radiation treatment or chemotherapy: 

This is needed if the cancer reaches stage III or IV. That means that the cancerous cells have spread to the lymph nodes or other organs in the body. 


  • Use sunscreen and do not burn
  • Avoid tanning outside and in beds 
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside
  • Keep newborns out of the sun
  • Examine your skin every month
  • See your physician every year for a skin exam 

 Source: Skin Cancer Foundation