North East the 'sunbed capital of the UK', skin cancer charity finds

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A skin cancer charity has found that the North East is the sunbed capital of the UK.

Research by Melanoma Focus shows that just under half of adults living in the region have used a sunbed at least once. It's estimated that 100 people in the UK die every year from melanomas caused by sunbed use.

Across the UK, around a third of adults say they have used sunbeds at least once despite 79% of all respondents saying they were aware that the use of sunbeds can increase the risk of skin cancer.

Susanna Daniels, CEO at Melanoma Focus, said: "These results are surprising, not only because the survey results show that sunbed use is very high in some parts of the country but that their popularity does not seem to correlate directly with colder areas of the UK.

"This would suggest that sunbed usage is down to fashion and cultural influences as opposed to geographical location.

"We strongly recommend that the use of sunbeds is avoided by everyone, the increased risks of melanoma skin cancer are significant."

Ultraviolet radiation, which comes from the sun or from sunbeds, significantly increases the risk of developing melanoma skin cancer.

It is estimated that in the UK about 100 people die each year from melanomas developed due to sunbed use.

Some studies have found that first exposure to indoor tanning before the age of 35 years was associated with a 75% increased risk of developing skin cancer.

One in 36 men and 1 in 47 women in the UK will be diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer in their lifetime.

It is the deadliest form of skin cancer and, across the country, accounts for 1% of all cancer deaths and kills 2,300 people per year. Yet 86% of melanomas are preventable.

'It's not worth ruining or losing your life for the sake of tanning'

Leah Roach, 32, was a sunbed user and was diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer in 2020.

She said: "I've used sunbeds and sunbathed in the past. I didn't take the risk of skin cancer seriously even though my grandmother died of melanoma in the 70s.

"In June 2020, during the Covid-19 lockdown, I had a persistent cough, back pain and had a lump in my back.

"I ended up going to A&E with breathlessness and, after having scans and a biopsy, I was extremely shocked to be diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma skin cancer.

"The cancer had spread throughout my body so I ended up needing immunotherapy and also major surgery to remove two tumours from my abdomen.

"I spent two months in hospital on my own, it was very lonely.

"My last two scans have been clear and I'm feeling positive but my message to anyone else using sunbeds is that it's not worth it.

"Cancer is awful and potentially life-shortening. Use fake tan or enjoy the skin tone you have.

"It's not worth ruining or losing your life for the sake of tanning."

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