Tanning Beds Pose High Cancer Risk

July 29, 2009

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified UV-emitting tanning devices as “carcinogenic to humans,” moving the devices to the highest cancer risk category as deadly as arsenic or asbestos. For years, scientists have described tanning beds and ultraviolet radiation as “probable carcinogens.” The Working Group was convened by the IARC Monographs program and the conclusions are reported in an article and press release issued by The Lancet Oncology.

Combined analysis of more than 20 epidemiological studies shows that the risk of cutaneous melanoma is increased by 75 percent when the use of tanning devices starts before age 30, the IARC said. There is also sufficient evidence of an increased risk of ocular melanoma associated with the use of tanning devices. Studies in experimental animals support these conclusions and demonstrate that ultraviolet radiation (UVA, UVB, and UVC) is carcinogenic to humans.

“People need to be reminded of the risks of 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.”

These findings reinforce current recommendations by the World Health Organization to avoid sunlamps and tanning parlours and to protect yourself from overexposure to the sun.

Further information can be found in the 2006 report of an earlier IARC Working Group and from WHO’s website at http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs287/en/.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: IARC

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