Researchers say tanning beds may cause cancer.


The CBS Evening News (7/28, story 8, 2:15, Couric) reported that, according to a paper published online July 29 in The Lancet Oncology, tanning beds may "pose as big a risk as tobacco and asbestos." Medical correspondent Jon LaPook, MD, explained that the "international panel of cancer experts upgraded the warning on tanning beds from probably to definitely able to cause cancer."
The AP (7/29, Cheng) points out that "a new analysis of about 20 studies concludes the risk of skin cancer jumps by 75 percent when people start using tanning beds before age 30." In addition, researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the "cancer arm" of the World Health Organization, "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." Now, "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."
AFP (7/29, Hood) quotes study leader Vincent Cogliano, PhD, as saying that sunbed use causes "melanoma of the skin and...of the eye." Cogliano also said "it is not the IARC's role to issue recommendations, but that he hoped the new evaluation would focus attention on the issue." Internationally, "physicians hailed the decision, and called for tighter regulations for the multi-billion dollar tanning industry." Nina Goad, spokesperson for the British Association of Dermatologists, stated, "It is high time that steps were taken to regulate the industry, to prevent children using sunbeds." Meanwhile, George Reuter, of France's National Union of Dermatology, said, "We have been trying for a long time to call the attention of the government to the potential risks."
BBC News (7/29) reports that the UK's Sunbed Association "supports a ban on" tanning bed use for those under 16 years of age, but "argues there is no scientific evidence for a ban on young people aged 17 or 18." Chief executive Kathy Banks said, "Research has shown that over 80 percent of sunbed users are very knowledgeable about the risks associated with over-exposure to ultraviolet [light], and the majority of sunbed users take 20 or less sunbed sessions a year." But, Jessica Harris, Cancer Research UK's health information officer, called for UK "ministers to implement a ban on under-18s using sunbeds immediately, and to close salons that are not supervised by trained staff."
CBC News (7/29) explains that up "until now, only UVB radiation from solar rays was known to cause a genetic mutation," but the IARC team "found the same mutation in the skin of mice treated with UVA." Therefore, "the agency decided to reclassify all types of ultraviolet radiation -- UVA, UVB, and UVC -- as carcinogenic to humans, or Group 1 carcinogens. Previously, the three UV types were grouped as probable carcinogens." CBC points out that the "WHO has warned people younger than 18 to avoid tanning beds. The Canadian Cancer Society has called for minors to be barred from using tanning beds, and the American Cancer Society advises people to try bronzing creams instead of tanning beds."
The UK's Press Association (7/29) notes that "several case-control studies provide consistent evidence of a positive association between the use of ultraviolet-emitting tanning devices and ocular melanoma."
The UK's Daily Telegraph (7/29) reports that the IARC study "follows research earlier this year that found the deadliest form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma, has become the most commonly diagnosed cancer among British women in their 20s." According to "the latest available" Cancer Research UK figures, "338 women aged between 20 and 29 were diagnosed with melanoma, compared with 298 for cervical cancer." In fact, "cases of melanoma have increased by a third since 2003, when there were 220 cases." Overall, skin cancer cases in the UK "have more than doubled in the last decade."
According to HealthDay (7/28, Reinberg), the Food and Drug Administration "is considering strengthening its warnings about the risk of skin cancer and eye damage" related to tanning bed use, the agency said. Meanwhile, Jeffrey C. Salomon, MD, "an assistant clinical professor of plastic surgery at Yale University School of Medicine," who was not involved in the study, said that "the time has come for the FDA to restrict the use of tanning beds and to issue stronger warnings of their dangers."
New York's Newsday (7/29, Altherr), the Minneapolis Star Tribune (7/29), WLS-TV Chicago (7/28), the UK's Sun (7/29), and WebMD (7/28, Boyles) also covered the story.