Britain backs ban on tanning beds for under-18s

Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:44am EST
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By Kate Kelland

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.

Campaigners say melanoma is the most common cancer in young Britons aged 15-34 and kills more than 2,000 people a year.

Around 160,000 new cases are diagnosed worldwide each year and while melanoma is preventable, or treatable if caught early, in patients whose disease has spread it is rarely cured and often kills them within a year.

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.   Continued...

<p>A man lies on a tanning bed as he begins a session at a tanning salon in Shanghai August 1, 2006. REUTERS/Nir Elias</p>