Tanning beds as harmful as smoking

July 31, 2009

New research from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has determined that tanning beds are even more dangerous than previously thought. The IARC has moved tanning beds from “probably carcinogenic to humans” to the highest cancer risk category, calling them “carcinogenic to humans”. They will join other Group 1 hazards including cigarettes, asbestos, and arsenic.

This past June, scientists from several different countries met to analyze 20 studies that linked tanning beds and skin cancer. After examining the data, the IARC has found tanning beds can increase the risk of developing skin cancer by 75%, especially if use begins before the age of 30. The IARC also discovered evidence that links tanning beds with melanoma of the eye.

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the amount of young women who have been diagnosed with melanoma – the most serious form of skin cancer. According to WebMD:

“[IARC’s Vincent] Cogliano said studies conducted over the past decade provide an ‘an abundance of evidence’ that tanning bed use has played a role in this rise, along with direct sun exposure.”

With the release of these results, the World Health Organization hopes to persuade governments to regulate the use of tanning beds, as well as restrict their use to those who are 18 and over.

The report is published in the August issue of Lancet Oncology.


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