Friday 21 February 2020

A tan is not healthy: ban sunbeds, says cancer expert

A tanned Hugo de Jonge Photo: Health Ministry

Sunbeds are a danger to public health and should be banned, a leading cancer expert has said in the wake of skyrocketing skin cancer figures.

Skin cancer is now most common cancer in the Netherlands, new figures from cancer centre IKNL show.

The centre, which keeps a record of all cancers, registered 73,000 people who were diagnosed with the diseases in 2019, making it the fastest growing type of cancer in the country. Over 50% of new cancers is skin cancer.

In total, 50,000 people were diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma which is relatively easy to treat and does not spread. However, other types of skin cancer, including the potentially lethal melanoma, have also shown a sharp rise in the last five years, the report says.

Some 23,000 people were diagnosed with skin cancers other than basal cell carcinoma, a jump of 8,000 compared to five years ago. Of them, 7,000 had the malignant form.

The IKNL’s leading cancer expert Peter Huijgens, who is stepping down from his post at the centre, said the rise in skin cancer diagnoses is a result of increasing awareness of the dangers of UV radiation, but that sunbeds should be banned.

‘We need to move a away from the ridiculous idea that getting a tan is healthy, and sunbeds should be banned by law. Redheads know they shouldn’t expose themselves to the sun too much but that is really the message for all white-skinned people,’ Huijgens told the AD.

Huijgens said more campaigning is needed and slated health minister Hugo de Jonge who told talkshow host Eva Jinek he uses a sunbed every other week. ‘A tanned health minister is not giving off the right message. It’s the best of way of not discouraging sunbed use,’ he said.

Huijgens said the health ministry is wrong to say De Jonge’s sunbed habit was ‘a private matter’. ‘There is no such thing as a difference between what a politician does in private and what he says publicly. You only have one life,’ he told the paper.

A total of 118,000 people were diagnosed with cancer  last year, some 2,000 more than the year before. Lung cancer accounts for most deaths from cancer. Over 10,000 people died from the disease last year. The rise in cancer diagnoses is mainly due to population growth, an ageing population and risk factors, the centre said.

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