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Sunbeds 'as bad as smoking'

3rd August 2009

Global health experts say that using a tanning bed is just as harmful to health as smoking cigarettes.

sunbed1

Experts at the World Health Organisation (WHO) said sunbed use, as well as other forms of exposure to ultraviolet radiation, has been reclassified as highly carcinogenic.

The WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) now finds ultraviolet radiation exposure to be just as carcinogenic as tobacco smoking, the inhalation of asbestos particles, and exposure to benzene.

The decision comes on the heels of an IARC report led by Fatiha L. Ghassassi regarding the carcinogenic implications of sunbed use.

The study found that cancer risk increases by 75% for people who use sunbeds before reaching age 30.

The high risk that comes with sunbed use is associated with the most deadly form of skin cancer.

The IARC has five classifications for cancer causing substances.

The first three groups all deal with agents that are, or may be, carcinogenic to humans, while the fourth and fifth deal with activities and substances that defy classification or probably are not carcinogenic.

Whereas ultraviolet radiation in all of its forms was previously classified in a group for substances that probably cause cancer, the results of the recent finding caused the WHO to change its classification status, to that of substances that cause cancer.

According to the study authors, many people in developed countries now make regular use ultraviolet radiation emitting tanning devices such as sunbeds and sunlamps, especially young women.


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