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NZ Tanning Association Defends Use Of Sunbeds

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
NZ Tanning Association Defends Use Of Sunbeds

Wellington, Dec 15 NZPA - The Indoor Tanning Association of New Zealand is defending the use of sunbeds following a Consumer magazine report slamming most sunbed operators' practices.

The report in this month's Consumer says its four surveys, since 2005, showed "consistent noncompliance" of sunbed operators with voluntary standards.

Consumer has called for operators to be licensed and compulsory standards introduced to protect consumers.

The tanning association, which represents a small group of operators, today said it supports the call for sunbed operators to be subject to compulsory standards.

However it says it was unfair to single out the use of sunbeds.

The association said it was estimated only 5-8 percent of New Zealanders used a sunbed each year but 92-95 percent were exposed to outdoor UV rays, a spokesman said in a statement from the association today.

"It certainly makes no sense to place so much emphasis on sunbeds when clearly over 90 percent of New Zealanders only ever get any UV (ultraviolet) exposure from the outdoor sun," he said.

"Neither sunbeds nor the outdoor sun are a problem -- provided they are used correctly," he said.

The association advocated educating the public about the risks and benefits of any UV exposure to help people make better decisions about their sun exposure.

More emphasis needed to be placed on the importance of avoiding sunburn -- rather than avoiding sunlight or sunbeds.

"Rather than continuing to frighten people out of sunbeds -- there needs to be more emphasis on using them properly as when used properly the health benefits of sunbeds are undeniable," he said.

The association cited a study from the universities of Oslo, Haukeland and Bergen, which it said showed sunbeds were a "useful tool" for significantly increasing vitamin D levels, especially during winter.

It said the study contradicted comments made by Honorary Associate Professor at Auckland University (School of Medicine), Marius Rademaker, to Consumer that vitamin D was produced by a specific wavelength of light, which most sunbeds did not produce.

"Vitamin D is also rapidly degraded by sunlight, so prolonged UV exposure may reduce your vitamin D production -- a fact that is often overlooked," the spokesman said.

The Cancer Society told Consumer sunbeds should not be used as an attempt to increase vitamin D due to the associated health risks.

Consumer "mystery-shopped" 69 sunbed operators but found only seven met all its requirements.

Undercover researchers evaluated the sessions against New Zealand's voluntary standards for operators.

Operators are required to inform consumers about the dangers of UV radiation and to provide goggles for eye protection.

Operators are also expected to refuse high-risk users, such as people with fair skin or under the age of 18, from using the beds, Consumer said.

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