22/08/2012 05:37 BST | Updated 22/08/2012 05:39 BST

Sunbed Centres Allowed To Advertise Vitamin D Benefits, Advertising Watchdog Rules

Sunbed centres are allowed to extoll the benefits of the tanning machines as a source of Vitamin D, despite complaints from the Scottish government, the advertising watchdog has ruled.

A leaflet for the Indigo Sun tanning centre said: "Exposure to UV light (whether from sunlight or sunbeds) is the most important source of vitamin D for people in the UK."


The salon said sunbeds could be use as a source of Vitamin D

The Scottish Government said the leaflet was misleading and irresponsible and contradicted the World Health Organisation's advice on the use of sunbeds as a source of vitamin D.

Defending the leaflet, Indigo Sun said it was generally accepted that people in the UK got 90% of their vitamin D from exposure to UV light and that it was a fact that UV exposure from sunbeds stimulated vitamin D production.

They did not recommend the exclusive use of sunbeds as a source of UV and the leaflet included health warnings that customers should be aged 18 years or over, that people with fair skin or moles should avoid exposure and that all customers should avoid over-exposure and wear eye protection.

Rejecting the government's complaints, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it was widely accepted that UV light was the primary source of vitamin D for UK citizens.

It said: "We noted that the claim was a general one regarding the importance of UV as a source of vitamin D and that it did not go into detail about the risks of over-exposure to UV, from either sunlight or sunbeds.

"We noted that the leaflet contained warnings regarding over-exposure, the need for eye protection and the need for people with certain skin types to avoid exposure to UV completely.

"We did not therefore consider that readers would infer from the claim that there were no health risks associated with exposure to UV from sunbeds, or that sunbeds were any safer than sunlight."

British Association of Dermatologists spokeswoman Nina Goad said: "It is disappointing that sunbed operators still think it appropriate to use health claims to advertise their services.

"The issues around vitamin D are complex and evidence is still very much emerging, whereas the health risks associated with excessive UV exposure are well established.

"In fact, a recent research review has concluded that use of sunbeds before the age of 35 is associated with an 87% increased risk of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer."