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New Study Deems Tanning Beds as 'Potential Carcinogens'

Posted: July 29, 2009

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, the cancer-studying branch of the World Health Organization, has named tanning beds as 'potential carcinogens,' possibly leading people to seek alternatives.

International cancer experts have moved tanning beds and other sources of ultraviolet radiation into the top cancer risk category, deeming them as deadly as arsenic and mustard gas. For years, scientists have described tanning beds and ultraviolet radiation as "probable carcinogens."

A new analysis of about 20 studies concludes the risk of skin cancer jumps by 75% when people start using tanning beds before age 30. Experts also found that all types of ultraviolet radiation caused worrying mutations in mice, proof the radiation is carcinogenic. Previously, only one type of ultraviolet radiation was thought to be lethal.

The new classification means tanning beds and other sources of ultraviolet radiation are definite causes of cancer, alongside tobacco, the hepatitis B virus and chimney sweeping, among others. The research was published online in the medical journal Lancet Oncology on Wednesday, by experts at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, the cancer arm of the World Health Organization.

"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."