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SALT LAKE CITY -- A new study being published in The Lancet Oncology raises new concerns about the use of tanning beds.
The study found the ultraviolet radiation tanners receive at salons to be as deadly to them as mustard gas or arsenic, moving the beds into the top cancer-risk category. Findings show the risk of skin cancer jumps 75 percent for someone who uses a tanning bed even once before the age of 30.
Huntsman Cancer Institute Dr. Robert Andtbacka says Utahns are already at a higher risk for skin cancer because many of the state's residents are fair-skinned and because we are exposed to the sun at a higher elevation than many people in other places. But he says he's seeing more cancers related to use of tanning beds.
"We have a lot of, especially, young women that are in their 20s and 30s that develop melanomas. And most of those have been to tanning beds before," Andtbacka said.
Still, he points out that the risk does not discriminate on age.
"I've treated a four-year-old person with melanoma," he said.
Andtbacka says even if you're someone who's frequented the tanning salon in your early years, you can reduce your risk for developing skin cancer just by staying away from them later on. As more time goes on, much like for someone who once smoked but has quit, the risk gradually reduces.
The Sunbed Association, a trade association of bed-makers and operators in Europe, disputes that tanning beds cause cancer. In a statement, CEO Kathy Banks says: "The fact that is continuously ignored is that there is no proven link between the responsible use of sunbeds and skin cancer."
The American Cancer Society suggests using bronzers or self-tanning lotions rather than tanning beds.