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UV Tanning Beds Classified as Human Carcinogen

Last Updated: July 31, 2009.

Ultraviolet tanning beds should be considered carcinogenic, according to a World Health Organization working group writing in the August issue of The Lancet Oncology.

FRIDAY, July 31 (HealthDay News) -- Ultraviolet (UV) tanning beds should be considered carcinogenic, according to a World Health Organization working group writing in the August issue of The Lancet Oncology.

Fatiha El Ghissassi, of the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, and colleagues discuss a recent meeting of scientists to evaluate the carcinogenicity of different types of radiation.

Residential exposure to radon gas appears to be the second leading cause of lung cancer after tobacco smoke, with up to 15 percent attributable risk in the United States, they write. The group reaffirmed the carcinogenicity of solar radiation, which has been found to cause all major kinds of skin cancer; but advise that a possible association between occupational UV exposure and ocular melanoma in welders needs further review. The group also classified UV-emitting tanning devices as carcinogenic to humans.

"The use of UV-emitting tanning devices is widespread in many developed countries, especially among young women. A comprehensive meta-analysis concluded that the risk of cutaneous melanoma is increased by 75 percent when use of tanning devices starts before 30 years of age," the authors conclude. "Additionally, several case-control studies provide consistent evidence of a positive association between the use of UV-emitting tanning devices and ocular melanoma."

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