Thursday, July 30, 2009

UV rays can cause skin cancer

Following a CBS Evening News story, NBC Nightly News (7/29, story 7, 1:00, Williams) reported, "Now to the news just out...about the tanning bed industry. While the risk of skin cancer is well known, [a] dire warning...compared the effects to cigarette smoking and arsenic." Chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman, MD, explained that according to the World Health Organization, "an exponential increase cancer" can be linked "to the use of indoor sun and tanning booths." For people who "start using the booths before the age of 30," their "risk goes up 75 percent."

The Tampa Tribune (7/30) reports that "the declaration by" the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that "tanning booths emitting ultraviolet radiation are carcinogenic" simply "echoes what dermatologists say they've suspected for years." The declaration, published in the August issue of The Lancet Oncology, ranked tanning beds "right up there with tobacco smoke and mustard gas." Dermatologist Neil Alan Fenske, MD, of the University of South Florida, pointed out that "for some time, tanning beds that use ultraviolet rays were suspected of causing skin cancer." He stated that "the members of the American Academy of Dermatology have been fighting this battle for a number of years," adding that "patients who have received abundant amounts of light via tanning beds have developed extraordinary numbers of skin cancers."

The Detroit Free Press (7/30, Satyanarayana, Warikoo) reports that IARC made its "announcement after finding enough evidence in people and mice that UVA and UVB rays damage skin-cell DNA, sometimes in cancer-blocking genes." The damage may result in "three types of skin cancer: the less dangerous basal and squamous cell skin cancers and melanoma," explained dermatologist Darius Mehregan, MD, of Wayne State University. The Free Press notes that "the American Academy of Dermatology had no comment on the international decree, and calls to the Indoor Tanning Association were not immediately returned."

According to MedPage Today (7/29, Bankhead), "citing evidence from case-control studies and a meta-analysis, the IARC monograph working group 'raised the classification of the use of UV-emitting tanning devices to Group 1, 'carcinogenic to humans.'" In addition, "the working group also cited case-control studies showing 'consistent evidence of an association between the use of UV-emitting tanning devices and ocular melanoma.'" In fact, "the IARC reclassified all forms of ultraviolet radiation as a single carcinogenic entity. Historically, mutations caused by exposure solar radiation had been attributed to UVB," but "the same mutation was identified in UVA-induced skin tumors in mice." In its update, "the IARC moved UV radiation as a whole into the highest-risk category, eliminating distinctions between UVA, UVB, and UVC."

The Philadelphia Inquirer (7/29, Ryst) quoted John Overstreet, executive director of the Indoor Tanning Association, as saying, "Because tanning beds produce the same UV light as the sun, overexposure and abuse of our product -- just like overexposure to sunlight -- is associated with an increased risk for some types of skin cancer." (courtesy AOA)

This is just another example of how harmful UV rays can be to our health. Your eyes should be protected by quality sunglasses.

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