French health watchdog calls for ban on sunbeds
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The French health watchdog Wednesday urged the government to outlaw sunlamps and sunbeds because of the "proven" risk of skin cancer, in line with similar bans already in place in Australia and Brazil.
"We recommend banning all activities linked to artificial tanning, along with ultraviolet sunlamps sold for esthetic purposes, especially those sold on the private market," Olivier Merckel, an expert at the Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES), told AFP.
Of 10,722 cases of malignant melanoma -- the deadliest form of skin cancer -- reported in French adults over age 30 in 2015, 382 could be directly linked to the use of sunbeds and sunlamps, ANSES estimated recently.
Skin specialists, the French academy of medicine, and some politicians have already spoken out in favour of a ban, but the French government has so far opted to merely tighten regulations.
In 2013, it banned people under age 18 from using commercial tanning parlours, and outlawed advertising for them.
A total ban is now needed, according to Merckel.
"Scientific data is growing, there isn't any doubt any more, we have solid proof, the risk of cancer is proven, we have figures on the risk to young people, to everyone, so now we're calling for action from the authorities," he said.
There is a "proven" link between artificial sunlight and human cancer, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a body of the World Health Organisation, warned as early as 2009.
People under 35 who resort at least once to artificial tanning increase the likelihood of developing skin melanoma by 59 percent, according to ANSES.
Brazil banned sunbeds in 2009 and Australia outlawed them in 2015.
Commercial tanning activity in France has already been halved since 2009, according to the National union of tanning professionals which represents some 4,500 tanning parlours in the country.
© 2018 AFP