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Tanning Beds Cause Skin Cancer

Jul 29, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP

New research has revealed that tanning beds cause skin cancer. U.S. News & World Report stated that, based on information from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) published in the recent issue of Lancet Oncology, tanning beds increase the odds of developing cancer.

Until the release of this information, World Health Organization (WHO) experts did not confirm any linke between tanning beds, sunlamps, and cancer, said U.S. News. The group, a committee that advises the WHO, changed is position following studies that revealed that teenagers and young adults increase their risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent when tanning beds are used, said U.S. News. CNN/CBS reported that cancer experts upgraded the risk of tanning beds “to the top of the cancer risk category,” comparing its dangers to those of arsenic and mustard gas. The WHO looked at 20 different studies said CNN/CBS. Where tanning beds had previously been labeled a “likely cause” of skin cancer, they are now considered a “definite” cause, said Newsday.

The team found that mutations occurred in mice when exposed to UVA or UVB light, another change from the belief that only one type of ultraviolet radiation is deadly said Newsday.

"Claims are that tanning beds are UVA light, and that doesn't cause a problem, but the report puts that theory to rest," said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, who read the findings, quoted Newsday. "It says it doesn't matter if it's UVA or UVB [light]," Dr. Lechtenfeld added.

"The UV light from a tanning bed is equivalent to UV light from the sun, which has had a Group One classification since 1992. Some other items in this category are red wine, beer, and salted fish," said Dan Humiston, president of the Indoor Tanning Association, reported Newsday.
Melanoma is the leading cause of cancer in women in their 20s in Britain, said Newsday, noting that the Lancet comes out of that country.

Dr. Colette Pameijer, a cancer surgeon at Stony Brook University Medical Center, in New York stated that the report is comprehensive. "They basically summarized all known data on UV radiation and risk for skin cancer in both humans and animals, and their conclusion should be taken very, very seriously," according to Newsday.

Earlier this year we wrote that the Mayo Clinic Health Letter made a number of startling revelations with respect to the extent to which skin cancer has become a serious health problem in the U.S. As a result of the depletion of the protective atmospheric ozone layer and the meteoric rise in popularity of tanning salons and sun worshipping in general, exposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation has increased dramatically.

The researchers found less of the cancers on exposed areas like the neck and head than they expected and more in areas normally covered by clothing like the torso. This supported their conclusion that a rising number of cancers may be attributable to the increased popularity of tanning beds.


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