Cancer through solarium: cancer aid calls for ban

Cancer through solarium: cancer aid calls for ban

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Deadly skin cancer risk from using solariums

Tanned skin was long considered a beauty ideal in Germany. Quite a few people are therefore helping their complexions to get going with a solarium. Cancer societies strongly advise against this, however, because using the solarium increases the risk of skin cancer. Now two specialist societies are even demanding that solariums be banned.

The German Cancer Aid and the Dermatological Prevention Working Group (ADP) draw attention to the potentially fatal risk of skin cancer that is associated with the use of solariums. The specialist societies are campaigning for a solarium ban in Germany.

Risk of cancer due to artificial UV radiation

The specialist societies emphasized that around 3,400 people in Europe suffer from black skin cancer each year through the use of solariums. Around 800 of these people die of it every year. Artificial UV radiation is an underestimated cancer risk factor, the cancer institutions warn.

Like at the equator at lunchtime

People living near the equator avoid the sun at lunchtime. Solarium users voluntarily expose themselves to the same intensity, because an irradiance typical for solariums is similar to the radiation from the equator sun at lunchtime.

This was also demonstrated by an impressive UV light installation called "Spectrum - the most dangerous artwork", which was shown on January 22 and 23 in the Reinbeckhallen in Berlin. 65 commercially available UV tubes, as they are also used in solarium devices, illustrate the skin cancer risk, which is underestimated by many. Visitors only had five minutes access and had to wear protective clothing.

Long-known and long-ignored risk

"Solariums have been classified as clearly carcinogenic for a decade," emphasizes the CEO of the German Cancer Aid Gerd Nettekoven. There has already been a ban on the use of children and adolescents since 2009. However, this ban is completely inadequate. Now, with the support of the ADP, the German Cancer Aid is calling for a general ban on solariums.

Young people like to use solariums

According to the German Cancer Aid, an estimated 140,000 minors managed to gain access to solarium devices in 2018 alone. The trend is increasing despite the ban, as the figures from the representative, nationwide observation study "National Cancer Aid Monitoring for Solarium Use (NCAM)" show.

"An insane fallacy"

"What an insane fallacy that tanned skin is still considered healthy and beautiful," explains dermatologist Professor Dr. Eckhard Breitbart. He is the chairman of the ADP. The tanning process is much more a cry for help from the skin and every use of the solarium leads to health damage.

Artificial UV radiation in the same risk group as sunlight

Around 37,000 people develop black skin cancer, known as malignant melanoma, every year in Germany alone. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies the risk potential of artificial UV radiation together with the natural UV radiation from the sun in the highest risk category for cancer-causing factors.

Damage to the genome within seconds

As the specialist societies report, in addition to the desired tanning effect, UV radiation causes damage to the genetic material of the skin cell within seconds. Cancer can develop from such cells with damaged genes decades later. The skin only tries to protect itself with a tan. The tan is not a sign of health.

Skin of children and adolescents particularly sensitive

According to the specialist societies, the skin of children and adolescents in particular is more sensitive to UV radiation. The risk of skin cancer is also much higher than in adults. "Despite certain legal requirements, the use of sunbeds is never harmless," Nettekoven says.

No solarium is safe

According to the WHO, there is no threshold for artificial UV radiation that is classified as harmless. "This means that no solarium can be considered safe for health," concludes the CEO of the German Cancer Aid. For this reason, the cancer specialist societies consider a general ban on solariums to be sensible. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • German Cancer Aid: Solarium ban for Germany required (published: 03.02.2020),