University of Sydney academics praise sunbed ban

7 February 2012

The ban of solariums in NSW has been welcomed by University of Sydney researchers
The ban of solariums in NSW has been welcomed by University of Sydney researchers

A NSW government decision to ban solariums has been welcomed by University of Sydney researchers whose study contributed to the move.

"This decision by the NSW government is groundbreaking. NSW is the first state in Australia to propose such legislation and Australia will be only the second country in the world, after Brazil, to take this step," said Professor Bruce Armstrong of the Sydney Medical School, who in 2011 co-authored the Australian Melanoma Family Study (AMFS) report.

"Our study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, was the first to examine the association of sunbed use with melanoma occurrence in younger adults. It found that the use of sunbeds by young people aged 18 to 39 years increased their risk of developing melanoma by an average 41 percent."

Professor Graham Mann, who leads melanoma research at the Westmead Millennium Institute for Medical Research, the University of Sydney, was the lead author on the only Australian study into increased melanoma incidence and use of sun beds by young people.

His study showed that the risk for people under 30 was, in fact, even higher.

"For people who got melanoma under the age of 30, and who had used sunbeds at all, 75 per cent of those melanomas are attributable to sunbeds. We are delighted that our research has contributed to a very important health measure that will help prevent melanoma in New South Wales, and hopefully, if other jurisdictions pick it up, will save more lives around Australia," said Professor Mann.

The Australian Melanoma Family Study findings were the result of a research collaboration between the University of Sydney, Westmead Millennium Institute for Medical Research, University of Melbourne, Melanoma Institute Australia, Cancer Council Victoria and Cancer Council Queensland.

The state government's decision to legislate was also applauded by Professor of Public Health Simon Chapman, who has championed legislative action.

"Solariums are not like spray-tan studios, catering to fashion victims. They are cancer incubators. I am delighted by this decision which is also a testament to the advocacy of the melanoma survivor Jay Allen."

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Media enquiries:

Professor Bruce Armstrong: (02) 9036 6308
Professor Simon Chapman: (02) 9351 5203 or 0438 340 304
Media adviser: Verity Leatherdale, 02 9351 4312, 0403 067 342,