Researchers say tanning beds cause cancer and are as risky as tobacco or asbestos

The CBS Evening News reported, on July 28, 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.” Whoa!!! That’s a statement that got my attention.

CBS 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 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.”

According to HealthDay’s story, 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.”

Frankly, I agree.

New York’s Newsday also covered the story.

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