French health watchdog calls for ban on sunbeds

The French health watchdog has urged the government to ban sunbeds and tanning parlours because of the ‘proven’ risk of skin cancer caused by exposure to artificial UV light. (AFP)
Updated 10 October 2018
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French health watchdog calls for ban on sunbeds

  • Of 10,722 cases of malignant melanoma — the deadliest form of skin cancer — reported among French adults over age 30 in 2015, 382 could be directly linked to the use of sunbeds and sunlamps
  • France already bans those aged 18 and under from using commercial tanning parlours, and has outlawed advertising for them

PARIS: The French health watchdog Wednesday urged the government to follow the example of Australia and Brazil by banning sunbeds and tanning parlours because of the “proven” risk of skin cancer caused by exposure to artificial UV light.
“We recommend banning all activities linked to artificial tanning, along with ultraviolet sunlamps sold for esthetic purposes,” Olivier Merckel, an expert at the Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES), told AFP.
Of 10,722 cases of malignant melanoma — the deadliest form of skin cancer — reported among French adults over age 30 in 2015, 382 could be directly linked to the use of sunbeds and sunlamps, ANSES estimated recently.
Skin specialists, the French academy of medicine, and some politicians have already spoken out in favor of a ban, but the French government so far has only tightened regulations.
France already bans those aged 18 and under from using commercial tanning parlours, and has outlawed advertising for them.
A total ban is now needed, Merckel said.
“Scientific data is growing, there isn’t any doubt any more. We have solid proof. The risk of cancer is proven, we have figures on the risk to young people, to everyone, so now we’re calling for action from the authorities,” he added.
People under 35 who resort at least once to artificial tanning increase the likelihood of developing skin melanoma by 59 percent, according to ANSES.
Commercial tanning activity in France has already been halved since 2009, according to the National union of tanning professionals which represents some 300 specialized salons and 4,500 beauty parlours offering tanning in the country.
Some 10,000 jobs will go if the government were to follow ANSES’ “inept recommendations,” it said Wednesday in a statement.
French health and safety inspectors have criticized tanning salons for breaching standards, saying UV emissions on some sunbeds were not regularly checked, while others are operated by untrained staff.
In 2016, 63 percent of the 982 tanning cabins checked by consumer protection authority the DGCCRF were in breach of standards.
There is a “proven” link between artificial sunlight and human cancer, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a body of the World Health Organization, warned as early as 2009.
Brazil became the first country in the world to ban indoor tanning beds in the same year, followed by Australia as of 2015.
Australia has the highest rate of melanoma in the world with 11,000 cases per year.
The US Food and Drug Administration has so far just insisted that marketing material for sunlamps must carry health warnings.


Japan’s ‘Uncle Olympics’ fan dies just short of 2020 Games

Naotoshi Yamada, above, was planning to attend the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020. (Reuters/File)
Updated 18 March 2019
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Japan’s ‘Uncle Olympics’ fan dies just short of 2020 Games

  • The man attended all summer games since 1964
  • He often wore a golden hat when he attended the games

TOKYO: A Japanese Olympic mega-fan who attended every summer games since Tokyo in 1964 has died, just over a year before his home city was to host its second Olympics.
Tokyo businessman Naotoshi Yamada, 92, who died on March 9 from heart failure, was a national celebrity in his own right with his repeated, gleeful appearances in Olympic stands.
“Uncle Olympics,” as he came to be known, was an omnipresent fixture for Japanese TV watchers cheering on the Japan team at the “Greatest Show On Earth.”
Often sporting a gold top hat, kimono, and a beaming smile, Yamada also became a darling of the international media.
“After 92 years of his life spent cheering, Naotoshi Yamada, international Olympic cheerleader, was called to eternal rest on March 9, 2019,” said his web site, managed by a firm he founded.
Born in 1926, Yamada built a successful wire rope manufacturing business, and also expanded his portfolio to include the hotel and real estate sectors.
But away from work, his passion was for sport, particularly the Olympics.
He did not miss a summer games since 1964, taking in Mexico City, Munich, Montreal, Moscow, Los Angeles, Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro.
For good measure, he also attended the winter games when it rolled into Nagano in 1998, and told local media of his strong desire to attend the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Yamada saw the first Tokyo Olympics when he was 38.
But his passion was truly ignited during the 1968 Mexico City Games, according to his website.
He donned a kimono and a sombrero hat and loudly cheered for a Mexican 5000-meter runner, mistaking him for a Japanese athlete.
Local spectators embraced the scene and loudly cheered for Japanese athletes in return, leading to an electrifying show of support that went beyond nationality, his website said.
“He saw the awesome power of cheering, and was mesmerised by it ever since,” it said.