Bronzed look could come at a high price, tanning salon junkies warned

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 May, 2007, 12:00am

Gym junkies, party people and others seeking a summer glow from a tanning salon have been warned they risk serious skin damage and even cancer.

The Consumer Council yesterday also listed suppression of the immune system, cataracts and other eye diseases as possible side effects of exposure to ultraviolet radiation from tanning beds and sun lamps.

The council's study found indoor tanning was growing in popularity in the city. 'But because skin ageing and cancer are delayed effects that do not usually show up immediately after exposure, young people are often not aware of the dangers of indoor tanning,' a spokesman said.

The World Health Organisation, the US Food and Drug Administration and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention say UV tanning devices should not be used at all and warnings should be displayed on them. The WHO also recommends people under the age of 18 avoid artificial tanning and lists the radiation as a known carcinogen.

There are no regulations controlling the tanning devices or the salons which provide them in Hong Kong.

The warnings will not stop Alfred Wong Wing-yu, 30, manager of Ignite Fitness and Tanning in Central, who has been jumping under the lights twice a week for 10 years. 'Most people who work out like to get tanned because it offers better definition of the muscles,' he said. 'We warn people to wear sunscreen and only spend a maximum of five or six minutes tanning.'

Mr Wong said he had heard Asian skin was more resilient to the effects of UV radiation than Caucasian skin.