Press Release: Accuro
A leading New Zealand dermatologist says skin cancers are a time
bomb for New Zealand's ageing population.
Dr Louise Reiche, a member of the New Zealand Dermatological
Society, has made submissions to the Minister of Health personally
and on behalf of the Society supporting proposed amendments to the
Health Act which outlaw sunbeds for people under 18.
Dr Reiche says dermatologists are seeing an increasing number of
baby boomers with a range of skin cancers. People now in their 60s
and 70s, spent a lot of time outdoors when sunscreens were of poor
quality, less available and seldom used. Instead they used coconut
oil which exaggerated the tanning process and put them more at risk
Cancer Society NZ comments that skin cancers are, by far, the
commonest cancer in New Zealand and currently cost this country
about $123 million annually.
"The medical profession is run off their feet with people
presenting themselves with skin cancers causing the public health
system to be overwhelmed," Dr Reiche comments.
"The waiting list is three to four months for urgent cases and,
during the delay, the cancers are growing. This results in poorer
health outcomes and more complex and expensive procedures."
"People with private health insurance can get access to
diagnosis and treatment earlier which is more successful, less
costly and offers better long term monitoring to facilitate earlier
detection of new skin cancers. This early detection means that
health outcomes are improved."
As well as baby boomers, Dr Reiche is treating young people,
especially women in the 20s and 30s, with melanomas resulting from
commercial sunbed exposure.
She explains that the problem with commercial sunbed exposure
compared to natural sunlight is that clients typically lie
completely naked on the sunbeds and expose skin to radiation
emitted from UV lamps which can be up to 13 times greater than the
peak summer sun.
She's now treating people with cancer of the genital skin which
is more vulnerable to skin cancer development.
Dr Reiche's submission to Minister, Jonathan Coleman, supports a
ban on sunbed use for people under 18 and encourages a complete
ban. She also wants to see additional funding for the Cancer
Society's Sunsmart campaign to support sun prevention education for
"We're among countries which have the highest rates of melanoma
in the world and skin cancer is the third most common lethal cancer
for men and women in New Zealand," she says.
"Commercial sunbeds offer no health benefits to New Zealanders.
They emit more ultra violet radiation than at the peak of sunshine.
International public health, laboratory and clinical health studies
show that the use of sunbeds is now widely recognised to increase
melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers."
Dr Reiche also points out that New Zealand's public dermatology
lags behind the developing world in being "woefully under
"I encourage the Minister to support funding for further
training positions for dermatologists in public hospitals."
In the meantime people should cover up this summer by wearing
wide brimmed hats, suitable UPF (ultra protective factor) clothing,
wrap-round UV protective glasses and applying and reapplying broad
spectrum SPF 50+ sunscreen.
Dr Reiche explains that New Zealanders are more at risk than any
other country because:
- The southern hemisphere is closer to the sun than the northern
hemisphere during summer months because of the way the sun rotates
around the earth
- The ozone hole over the South Pole affects New Zealand
disproportionately and we have less pollution so the sun's rays are
more direct (ie less filtered than anywhere on the globe)
- New Zealanders find it more comfortable to be outdoors in our
high temperate climate compared to other countries which have
The CEO of Accuro Health, Geoff Annals, says that while the
danger of sunburn is acute, radiation from sunbeds is even more
dangerous than the sun at the height of a Kiwi summer.
"Accuro supports the amendment to the Health Act. We also agree
with the New Zealand Dermatological Society that it should be
extended to a complete ban on sunbeds," Geoff Annals says.
"New Zealand and Australia have the highest rates of skin cancer
in the world. Each year there are around 70,000 new cases. Over 300
people die annually from melanoma, more than die on our roads.
"We have banned cars without seatbelts. It's time to ban
The Government's Health Protection Amendment Bill, which will ban
commercial artificial UV tanning services for people under 18, was
introduced to Parliament in August 2014 and is open for public
submissions until February 2015. The World Health Organisation
(WHO) in 2006 recommended banning commercial sunbed access to those
under 18. Many countries have since decreed a complete commercial
sunbed ban e.g. Brasil and three Australian states: New South
Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
Auckland is the first region in New Zealand to ban access to
commercial sunbeds to those under 18 years (July 2014) otherwise
New Zealand lags behind the world despite leading it in skin cancer