France's national agency of food and health safety ANSES has raised the alarm over the use of the artificial tanning method.
“In France, it has been estimated that 43 percent of melanomas in young people could be attributed to using these cabins before the age of 30,” said the agency in its recent report.
As a result, the public health body asked on Wednesday that “the authorities take any measure likely to stop the exposure of the population to artificial UV” in the face of the cancer risk.
“We recommend stopping activity related to artificial tanning, and also stopping the sale of devices providing UV exposure for aesthetic purposes,” said Olivier Merckel from ANSES.
According to the health safety agency, “people who have used tanning booths at least once before the age of 35 increase the risk of developing skin melanoma by 59 percent”.
Skin cancer is one of the leading causes of death among people under 35 in France.
Sunbeds also cause other undesirable side effects such as premature skin aging, which experts estimate could be four times faster with tanning lamps than in the sun.
So, why do sunbeds pose such a risk?
Tanning beds mainly emit UVA and provide intense exposure much richer than you get in natural light.
The exposure to the UV can also damage the DNA in your skin cells which over time can build up to cause skin cancer. On top of that, the user may feel, incorrectly, a feeling of security due to the absence of sunburn.
ANSES notes that “no limit can be put in place to fully protect users”.
The health agency, which already recommended banning sunbeds in 2014, also stressed the urgency of the situation.
“We can not wait,” said Olivier Merckel from ANSES. “Scientific data is accumulating, there is no longer any doubt, we have solid evidence, the risk of cancer is proven, we have data on the risks.
“Now we recommend action by the public authorities.”
And they aren't alone in their fight.
In 2015, French dermatologists called for the banning of sunbeds, along with France's medical council and several senators but so far no action has been taken.
Whether the government will listen this time remains to be seen.