Sunbeds linked to cancer by IARC report
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Sunbeds linked to cancer by IARC report

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A report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has declared that there is a "clear link" between sunbeds and skin cancer.

The IARC, the World Health Organisation's (WHO) agency for research into cancer, has reclassified sunbeds as a Group 1 agent and determined them to be "carcinogenic to humans". The move means that sunbeds and artificial tanning systems are now deemed to pose a risk to human health.

The report - compiled by a team of scientists lead by Dr Fatiha el Ghissassi and published in the The Lancet Oncology - found that people who had begun using UV-emitting tanning devices before the age of 30 were up to 75 per cent more likely to suffer from melanoma and other forms of skin cancer.

The IARC study is the second high-profile study in recent weeks to have deemed sunbeds as hazardous to human health.

Last month, the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE), delivered a report that called for the tanning industry to be better regulated.

The report said: "The health risks associated with sunbed use far outweigh the perceived benefits, the majority of which are psychological and cosmetic. The use of sunbeds to synthesise vitamin D is not recommended due to the cancer risk and high frequency of side effects."

COMARE wants to see more regulation introduced to the commercial use of sunbeds, including a ban on people under the age of 18 from using them.

The committee also called for all commercial outlets to be licensed and registered and for tanning salons and health clubs and spas offering sunbeds to be staffed at all times with trained, competent personnel.

Following the two reports, the UK government, which commissioned the COMARE report, is now expected to clamp down on the industry.

In a short statement, the Department of Health recognised the threat posed by sunbeds and said that it was currently "reviewing its position".

"Sunbeds can be dangerous - we must ensure that people who use them do so safely. If necessary we will look at new laws to protect young people," the statement said.

"We commissioned a report from COMARE to give us a better understanding of the issues around sunbeds. This report was published in June and we are considering the recommendations in full."

Meanwhile, The Sunbed Association (TSA) has questioned the IARC's decision to reclassify sunbeds. Kathy Banks, chief executive of TSA, highlighted previous studies by Newcastle General Hospital which concluded that sunbeds only pose a "relatively minor detriment to public health".

“At the moment, it is not clear to us what this re-classification means,” she said.

"IARC is an expert committee that makes recommendations to the WHO. We will be following this matter up with them for more information."

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A report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has declared that there is a "clear link" between sunbeds and skin cancer.
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