Study Finds Tanning Bed Cancer Risk Greater than Previously Believed
October 10, 2011

Study Finds Tanning Bed Cancer Risk Greater Than Previously Believed

Indoor tanning beds could be more likely to cause cancer than previously realized, as the ultraviolet radiation they use could cause damage below the visible layer of skin, claims a new study published in the latest edition of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

According to Telegraph Science Correspondent Nick Collins, the researchers behind the study have discovered that UVA rays, which are also given off by the sun and are often viewed as fairly harmless, could target "target the areas beneath the surface where cells divide to create new layers," causing damage to the DNA of those cells and raising the risk of skin cancer.

"What we are saying is that UVA does cause significant damage to DNA in the skin especially in the base layer, and that is where the damage is important," Professor Antony Young of King's College London, one of the researchers behind the study, told Collins on Thursday.

"Damage to the upper layers is not so important because those layers are in the process of dying, whereas damage to a dividing cell is more worrying," he added.

As Collins notes, the impact of UVA radiation on those lower skin layers could also pose a greater threat because damage to them cannot be seen and could well go unnoticed.

As part of the study, USA Today's Denise Mann wrote Friday, 12 volunteers were exposed to both UVA and shorter, naturally occurring UVB waves on their buttocks. The researchers found that the UVA rays were more damaging to the basal layer of the skin than UVB rays, and could also induce lesions on the deeper basal layers that went deeper than the naturally-occurring type of UV rays.

"The doses we used were comparable for erythema -- sunburn -- for UVA and UVB. That would be roughly equivalent to the doses needed for tanning in each spectrum," Young told Mann, adding that he believed there should be legislation banning tanning bed use for individuals under the age of 18.

Such legislation, USA Today reports, is currently under consideration by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and has been supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Indoor tanning is like smoking for your skin," Dr. Doris Day, a dermatologist at New York's Lenox Hill Hospital, told Mann. "It's the single worst thing you can do in terms of skin cancer and premature aging."


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