Beds moved to highest risk level for cancer
Sunbeds are as dangerous as smoking, the World Health Organisation has said.
The group placed use of the beds into the highest risk level for cancer, moving their rating from ‘probably carcinogenic’ to ‘carcinogenic to humans’ – putting them alongside cigarettes, alcohol and asbestos.
Ministers are now considering introducing changing the law to protect people, particularly the young, who use them.
The shift in the WHO‘s stance was prompted by the results of a review of recent studies of ultraviolet radiation (UV) tanning by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon.
The deadliest form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma, is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among British women in their 20s. Two years ago experts warned the risk of developing skin cancer from using sunbeds has trebled in just a decade because the demand for an instant tan – ‘binge tanning’ – has led to the marketing of increasingly powerful sunbeds.
Dr Fatiha El Ghissassi, writing in the journal The Lancet Oncology, said: ‘Several case control studies provide consistent evidence of a positive association between the use of UV-emitting tanning devices and ocular melanoma (skin cancer of the eyelid).’
A spokesman for the Department for Health said: ‘Sunbeds can be dangerous. If necessary, we will look at new laws to protect young people.’
Kathy Banks, chief executive of the Sunbed Association, the industry body, said: ‘The relationship between UV exposure and an increased risk of developing skin cancer is only likely to arise where over-exposure, in other words burning, has taken place.’