The genetic mutation caused by UV radiation has previously been attributed to UVB radiation alone. However, the same mutation was found in the skin of mice exposed to UVA radiation, and that radiation caused the mice to develop tumors, the researchers noted.
These findings caused the agency to reclassify all UV radiation -- including UVA, UVB and UVC -- as carcinogenic to humans. Previously the agency had classified UVA, UVB and UVC radiation as "probably carcinogenic to humans."
"The report firmly establishes ultraviolet radiation as a human carcinogen," the American Cancer Society's Lichtenfeld said.
"Young women in particular are the heaviest users of tanning beds, and are at the greatest risk of causing harm to themselves," he said. "This report also puts to rest the argument that tanning with UVA light is safe."
A representative of the tanning bed industry was less impressed by the ruling, however.
"The fact that the IARC has put tanning bed use in the same category as sunlight is hardly newsworthy," said Dan Humiston, president of the Indoor Tanning Association (ITA). "The UV light from a tanning bed is equivalent to UV light from the sun, which has had a group 1 classification since 1992. Some other items in this category are red wine, beer and salted fish. The ITA has always emphasized the importance of moderation when it comes to UV light from either the sun or a tanning bed."
Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) each regulate tanning beds and sunlamps. The FDA regulates labeling of the devices and the FTC regulates advertising claims about the devices.
The FDA currently requires tanning salons to direct all customers to wear protective eye goggles and advises consumers to limit their exposure to tanning devices, and avoid them if you have certain medical conditions such a
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