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WHO Adds Tanning Beds To Highest Cancer Risk Category

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Wednesday, July 29, 2009 6:41 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Protecting Your Family, Tanning Beds, Dangerous Products, Skin Cancer, Melanoma, Cancer, Carcinogens


IMAGE SOURCE: iStochphoto / girl in tanning bed / author: technotr

There is very little doubt, if any at all, that using a sunbed or sunlamp will raise the risk of skin cancer, say international cancer researchers.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has moved ultra-violet emitting tanning beds to its highest cancer risk category and labeled them as definitively “carcinogenic to humans” after ruling they are more dangerous than previously suggested.

The agency, part of the World Health Organization (WHO), had previously assessed sunbeds/sunlamps as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

The use of tanning beds could raise the risk of developing cancer by 75 percent, particularly if used by children and young adults, according to new research published in this month’s issue of The Lancet, medical journal.

“When the use of tanning devices starts before 30 years of age, the risk of skin cancer is increased by 75 percent,” said the report.

Additionally, several studies have linked sunbed use to a raised risk of melanoma of the eye.

"People need to be reminded of the risks associated with sunbeds," said Vincent Cogliano, one of the cancer researchers. "We hope the prevailing culture will change so teens don't think they need to use sunbeds to get a tan."

Cogliano and colleagues examined more than 7,000 melanoma cases and found a strong link between tanning bed use and the disease. He compared the link to that found between tobacco and lung cancer.

Since 1971, the IARC has published a series of “Monographs on the evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans,” which ranks the risk agents in groups from one to four.

Tanning beds now rank in Group 1 alongside tobacco products, arsenic and asbestos.

Activists are calling for congress to take action and possibly ban people under 18 years old from using tanning beds. The National Cancer Institute reports the rate of new cases of malignant melanoma among young women has doubled since 1980. #

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