A survey carried out by Cancer Research UK has revealed that 45% of sunbed users aged 18-34 are unhappy with how they look. In comparison, the research revealed that of those who have never used a sunbed, only 36% are unhappy with their looks.
Of those who do use sunbeds, 30% do so to look more attractive. The question is, where is this pressure to look tanned coming from? Unhappy sunbed users claim various influences; 29% said peer pressure was a factor, 30% said celebrity bodies influenced them and 45% blamed the media’s influence.
Caroline Cerny, senior health campaigns manager from Cancer Research UK said:
“We live in an image-obsessed culture and know many sunbed users continue to use them because they think they look better with a tan. But actually they are making their skin look worse in the long run. The more unhappy they are with the skin they’re in, the more they may use sunbeds – it’s a vicious circle.”
This news comes at the same time scientists are telling us that sunbeds have the potential to be as addictive as alcohol and drugs. A study carried out by researchers at Southwestern University in Texas showed those who are addicted to sunbeds have a similar physical reaction to tanning as addicts do to getting their ‘fix’.
The study from Texas also revealed that regular tanners only felt satisfied when exposed to UV rays. Researchers offered tanners two 10-minute sessions on a sunbed; the first was a normal sunbed, the second had blocked UV rays that participants were unaware of. Before and after each session they were asked, “how much do you want to tan?” on a scale of one to five. After the UV session, tanners had a sharp decrease in desire as they had already got their ‘fix’, but their desire remained the same after the session with blocked UV rays.
The World Health Organisation states that sunbeds are as lethal as smoking and are listed as a dangerous cancer-causing habit. Currently there are thought to be around 13,000 Britons diagnosed with skin cancer each year, causing 2,800 deaths.
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