I was given a year to live after my sunbed addiction – I had pressure to fit in

A MAN has been given just a year to live after his use of sunbeds became an addiction and he developed skin cancer.

Jak Howell, now 23, first started using sunbeds when he was just 16 years old, two years younger than the legal minimum.

Jak Howell started using sunbeds when he was just 16

Jak Howell started using sunbeds when he was just 16Credit: Triangle News
Medics initially gave Jak the devastating diagnosis he had just a year to live

Medics initially gave Jak the devastating diagnosis he had just a year to liveCredit: Triangle News
Jak went to see his GP when he developed an itchy spot on his back

Jak went to see his GP when he developed an itchy spot on his backCredit: Triangle News

While the man from Swansea, Wales, says he started off using them occasionally, his habit grew to such an extent he would be spending more than 100 minutes a week using the beds, adding he just wanted to fit in with his friends.

His addiction grew so bad he found it “hard to stop” and would do 18-20 minute sessions some five times a week, even though the guidance says you should have at least a 48 hour gap between sessions.

Jak told LadBible: “I was underage to begin with which was very immature and silly of me but I was using them here and there.

“About 18, I fell into the loophole of properly going on sunbeds.”

He used sunbeds in this way for around six years before he discovered a spot on his back which had become itchy and he went to his GP.

Jak thought it was just an insect bite but his GP sent him straight to hospital where the spot was removed and examined.

Medics then delivered the devastating news that he had stage 3 melanoma and gave the prognosis he had just 12 months to live.

Jak has since undergone two operations in an attempt to remove the cancer, but neither was a success.

He has also undergone chemotherapy, which has helped him live past his initial prognosis and has provided a glimmer of hope he can beat the cancer.

Jak has now used his social media accounts to raise awareness about the potential dangers of using tanning beds.

He said: “I’d tell little Jak to be confident in himself and that he doesn’t need to do all these silly things to make himself feel like he fits in.

“I’d tell him to know his worth. I’d tell him to be prepared for things that are coming.”

Health minister James Morris last month agreed to discuss a ban on sunbeds after Labour MP Sarah Owen pressed the Government to take the “dangers of sunbeds seriously”.

Ms Owen, MP for Luton North, said: “Sunbeds continue to be used all-year round at very high risk.

“So does the minister agree it’s time we took the dangers of sunbeds seriously and does the minister support Melanoma UK’s campaign to ban the use of sunbeds – and if not, why not?

Sunbeds give out UV rays, and exposure to UV rays increases the risk of malignant melanoma – the most deadly form of skin cancer.

Melanoma UK chief executive Gillian Nuttall said melanomas and other skin cancers are “increasingly common” in Britain.

More than 170,000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed every year, and almost 2,500 die of the disease. 

Since the early 1990s, the incidence of melanoma skin cancer – the most deadly form – has doubled in the UK.

And over the last decade alone, melanoma skin cancer incidence rates have increased by around a third.

Jak would often spend 100 minutes a week using sunbeds

Jak would often spend 100 minutes a week using sunbedsCredit: Triangle News
Jak is now using his social media accounts to warn others about the dangers

Jak is now using his social media accounts to warn others about the dangersCredit: Triangle News