'Tan lover' warns of sunbed danger after she is left with skin cancer scar
Warning: this feature contains graphic imagery.
A self-professed tan lover has spoken out about the dangers of using sun beds after her 25-year-long habit lead to skin cancer.
Erica Brook, 43, used to have sunbeds almost daily from the age of 15 before reducing her visit to the tanning salon to only twice a week in her 30s.
She would no longer be permitted to use sunbeds from such a young age, as the Sunbeds Regulation Act 2010 has since made it an offence for someone operating a sunbed business to permit under-18s to use them.
The former flight attendant and model, who is a mum of one, also went without sun protection on holiday.
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But she realised the error of her ways after noticing a scab on her forehead, which was later diagnosed as basal cell carcinoma - a type of skin cancer.
She had to undergo surgery to remove the lump, which required 20 stitches, and she was left with a Harry Potter style scar on her forehead.
"I don't think anyone will ever understand the sadness I felt when I looked in the mirror for the first time the next morning,” she says.
"That’s when it really hit me and I had a bit of a meltdown. To see the damage that I was left with from the skin cancer and know it was caused from long-term use of sunbeds and sunbathing was heartbreaking.
"What I am now left with is a permanent reminder of those sunbed visits and sun cream neglect.
"I am also left with soreness and pain across my head due to nerve damage and the healing process.”
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However, she says she is “lucky” to be rid of cancer.
"Thankfully, I can take a deep breath and remind myself that I am free from cancer - I am the lucky one."
Sunbed usage is a well-known risk factor for skin cancer.
Earlier this summer, a new survey conducted by the British Skin Foundation found the majority (77%) of British dermatologists believe sunbeds should be banned in the UK – with a further 91 agreeing tanning salons contribute significantly to skin cancer rates.
Meanwhile, skin cancer is up 45% in the UK in the past decade, Cancer Research UK has warned.