TANNING is big in the UK. Whether it be out of a bottle, from a week spent somewhere hot or from regular trips to the sunbed shops.

Sunbeds, even with the regulated ultraviolet levels, can still pose the risk of skin cancer, which is on the rise in the UK.

It’s clear that pale is out and tan is in. Yet how safe is your tan?

Worryingly 77% of sunbeds tested in Manchester by the city council were found to be exceeding safe ultraviolet levels.

Screen Shot 2014-05-16 At 12.56.51Over three quarters of sunbeds in Manchester exceeded safe ultraviolet levels

Tanning salons, as well as gyms, leisure centres and hotels, are now legally obliged to make sure their sunbeds are set at a safe level of UV lighting. The level was set in response to concerns about rises in skin cancer.

Trading standards officers tested 115 sunbeds across Manchester in 29 premises and found 89 exceeded the regulated level. Despite knowing about the visits from the officers with advanced warning.

Those found to be exceeding the regulated level have been sent written warnings and will be given a follow up visit to check the ultraviolet levels have been lowered. Those found to be still breaching the set levels could be fined up to £20,000.

Sunbeds, even with the regulated ultraviolet levels, can still pose the risk of skin cancer, which is on the rise in the UK. Malignant melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, is now the second most common cancer in the UK among 15 to 24 year olds.

The rate of the disease is now five times higher than it was in the 70s as tanning and the uses of sunbeds becomes increasingly common practice. Another worrying statistic is that the use of sunbeds before the age of 35 can increase the risk of malignant melanoma by nearly 90%.

Some cases of skin cancer can take years to develop, and those who damage their skin through exposure to sunbeds might not discover they have the disease until the symptoms are discovered years later. 

"People across the city may be getting ready for foreign holidays and will often start visiting tanning salons to get themselves ready for the beach," said Councillor Bernard Priest, Manchester City Council's deputy leader. "However, anyone planning to do this should be very concerned by these findings, which reinforce the message that anyone visiting tanning salons should do so with care as they're potentially exposing themselves to dangerous levels of UV light."

For more information about skin cancer, sunbeds and staying safe in the sun, head to: www.sunsmart.org.uk

Follow Niamh Spence at @missnspence