This site is intended for health professionals only

New research proves sunbed risk

Tanning machines are more dangerous than previously thought and can increase the risk of skin tumours by 75%, according to a new report.

And the government could now review sunbed laws following the study into the ultraviolet-emitting tanning devices by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Its findings, published in The Lancet Oncology medical journal, found the risk was greatest to children and young adults. The report stated: "The risk of skin melanoma is increased by 75% when use of tanning devices starts before 30 years of age. Additionally, several case-control studies provide consistent evidence of a positive association between the use of ultraviolet-emitting tanning devices and ocular melanoma (eye cancer)."

A spokesman for the Department of Health in response said the government may look at new laws for tighter control of the use of the machines.

The report authors said ultraviolet-emitting sunbeds should be moved to the "highest cancer risk category" and labelled as "carcinogenic to humans". They were previously classified as "probably carcinogenic to humans".

But the research was disputed by The Sunbed Association which said there was "no proven link" that responsible sunbed use led to skin cancer.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

International Agency For Research on Cancer