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London (dpa) - Around 100 people a year die in Britain from skin cancer caused by sunbed use, a medical expert looking into the causes of melanoma said Wednesday.
Brian Diffey, a professor at Newcastle General Hospital, published a study showing that eight per cent of exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays came from the tanning lamps, and the rest from the sun.
These rays are the main cause of melanoma, a potentially fatal type of skin cancer which kills 1,600 people in Britain every year.
Diffey cautioned against overreaction to the figures, noting that as a leisure activity it was nowhere near as harmful as smoking and drinking which kill thousands annually.
"You can't ban the sun and neither would you want to. The sensible thing is to warn people about the risk," he said, adding he was not calling for sunbeds to be banned.
"Sunbeds should be discouraged, but prohibition is not warranted, as exposure to the sun - which cannot be regulated - remains the major factor behind the risk of melanoma," he said.
A spokeswoman for Britain's Sunbed Association, which represents around 2,000 health clubs, leisure centres, and tanning salons, said measures were already in place to prevent harm being caused.
Copyright 2003 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH