International cancer experts have moved tanning beds and other sources of ultraviolet radiation into the top cancer risk category, comparing them to arsenic and mustard gas. For years, scientists have described tanning beds and ultraviolet radiation as “probable carcinogens.” But now a new analysis of about 20 studies concludes that the risk of skin cancer increases by 75% when people start using tanning beds before age 30.
The research was published online in the medical journal Lancet Oncology, by experts at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, the cancer arm of the World Health Organization. Dr. Vincent Cogliano, one of the cancer researchers, observed:
People need to be reminded of the risks of sunbeds. We hope the prevailing culture will change so teens don’t think they need to use sunbeds to get a tan.
Most lights used in tanning beds give off mainly ultraviolet radiation, which cause skin and eye cancer, according to the International Agency for Cancer Research. But, as use of tanning beds has increased among people under 30, doctors have seen a parallel rise in the numbers of young people with skin cancer. Experts found that all types of ultraviolet radiation are dangerous. Previously, it was believed only one type of ultraviolet radiation was lethal.
In Britain, melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, is now the leading cancer diagnosed in women in their 20s. Normally, skin cancer rates are highest in people over 75. Previous studies found younger people who regularly use tanning beds are eight times more likely to get melanoma than people who have never used them. In the past, the World Health Organization warned folks younger than 18 to stay away from tanning beds. Dr. Cogliano cautioned that ultraviolet radiation is not healthy, whether it comes from a tanning bed or from the sun. For those who want to keep a “good tan,” the American Cancer Society advises them to try bronzing or self-tanning creams instead of tanning beds.
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