According to a new report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the risk of cancer from tanning beds is the same as that of cigarettes and asbestos.
While it was once “probable,” today the risk is taken more seriously—the agency now requires these devices to be labelled as “carcinogenic to humans.” Those who use them risk becoming bronzed, healthy-looking cancer patients
This is according to a survey of experts from nine countries, which found that the risk of melanoma increased by 75% in those who regularly used tanning beds before the age of 30.
Ocular melanoma has also been linked to the use of these devices. According to the America Melanoma Foundation, melanoma is the second most common cancer in women in their twenties.
Experts have seen an increase in melanoma diagnoses recently, especially among young women.
A National Institute of Health study found that the incidence of melanoma among young women in the US nearly tripled from 1973 to 2004. Research conducted over the past 10 years offers plenty of evidence that tanning beds and direct sun exposure have played a role. in this dramatic increase.
“The routine of tanning beds can be injurious to your health and we expectation to inspire governments to formulate restrictions and regulations on the use of tanning beds,” said report co-author Beatrice Secretan of the Cancer Monograph Working Group at IARC, the cancer arm. World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO estimates suggest that perhaps as many as 60,000 people worldwide die each year from too much sun, with most of that number from malignant skin cancers.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the US, and tanning beds are commonly used by many, especially young people.
“This new report indorses and develops on previous references from the American Cancer Society that using tanning beds is risky to your health and should be avoided,” agrees American expert Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. .
Many doctors see the latest news as confirmation of what they’ve long believed — overexposure to tanning beds is just as dangerous as tanning in natural sunlight.
The report appears in the August 2009 issue of The Lancet Oncology and also confirms that ultraviolet A (UVA), ultraviolet B (UVB), and ultraviolet C (UVC) radiation causes cancer in animals.
This is important because the tanning bed industry has long argued that the beds are safe because of the type of radiation they offer – more UVA than UVB.
This fresh report tells us that all three types are unsafe.
Regarding the tanning industry, the International Tanning Association (ITA), which represents manufacturers of indoor tanning equipment and others in the $5 billion-a-year industry, recognizes that the UV exposure you get from a tanning bed is not significantly different from what you get from the sun.
The ITA quickly points out that even natural sun exposure has been classified as carcinogenic since 1992, sharing that category with salted fish, red wine and beer.
In the future, the WHO will strive to limit the use of tanning beds by persons under the age of 18. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates device labelling, while the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates the advertising claims of tanning beds.
Salons are required to inform customers to wear eye protection, and there are warnings about aging, skin cancer and eye injuries.
Since 2007, the FDA has been considering making these warnings stronger, although experts would like to see laws that limit the use of tanning beds by minors and black box warnings to users.
In the meantime, if you decide to take a trip to the tanning bed, at least you’ll know more about the risk you’re taking.
If you still want a bronzed, glowing look, consider UV-free spray tanning as an option that can give you the look, rather than using a tanning bed and exposing yourself to those skin-related cancer risks.