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LONDON (Reuters) - The British government backed a call on Wednesday for under-18s to be banned from using sunbeds in tanning salons because they increase skin cancer risk.
"The scientific evidence is clear -- sunbeds increase your risk of getting skin cancer," Health Minister Andy Burnham said in a statement. "It is far too easy for young people to use sunbeds and I am determined to take action to protect them."
A proposed law on the ban is to be debated in parliament at the end of this month.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) moved ultra-violet emitting tanning beds to its highest cancer risk category last July and labeled them as "carcinogenic to humans" after research found they could increase the risk of developing cancer by 75 percent.
The IARC said sunbeds were particularly dangerous if used by children and young adults.
Some countries and U.S. states regulate the multi-billion dollar tanning industry, with some banning teenagers from using sunbeds or requiring consent from their parents or doctor.
In Australia, children are banned from using solariums and the industry is required to post warnings in salons about potential health problems, including skin cancer.
A British government-commissioned report by Cancer Research UK published late last year found that six percent of children in Britain aged between 11 and 17 had used a sunbed.
If the British law is passed, it would prevent tanning salons from allowing under 18s to use their sunbeds.
Reporting by Kate Kelland, editing by Angus MacSwan