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Tanning beds as deadly as arsenic?

July 28, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
International cancer experts are calling tanning beds and sun exposure as deadly as arsenic and mustard gas. They point to a growing risk of malignant melanoma among young adults. Despite this, sun worshipers say they won't give up their tanning beds.It's a pretty even tan and 22-year-old Irma Morshedyan is proud of her bronze look. There are some months where she heads to the tanning salon every other day.

"It's just the fastest, quickest way to get dark and get like a nice glow on your skin," said Morshedyan.

Researchers are very concerned about young people like Irma. A new analysis of about 20 studies concludes the risk of skin cancer jumps 75 percent in people who start using tanning beds before age 30.

'We're dealing UVA and UVB rays intensified over a short time frame," said Dr. Boris Bagdasarian.

Oncologist Boris Bagdasarian says believes tanning beds and UV radiation should be in the top cancer risk category.

Accumulated exposure and repeated burns in children and young adults damage skin on a cellular level.

"After a while if you have many of these mutations it overwhelms the body's mechanism to repair these defects," said Dr. Bagdasarian.

Tanning beds use UV-A radiation, which some say won't burn you, but this new report finds both UVA and UVB can be lethal.

Scientists found a correlation link between the popularity of tanning salons among teens and the rise in melanoma in the same group. Dr. Bagdasarian points out the depletion of the ozone layer is also cause for concern.

"Over the next several decades if this continues we're going to see a growing problem with melanoma," said Dr. Bagdasarian.

Irma still likes to tan and thinks a lot of people just ignore the warnings.

"I guess a lot of people just ignore it. They just care about getting a tan and looking perfect," said Morshedyan.

Previous studies found young adults who regularly use tanning beds are eight times more likely to get melanoma than those who have never used them. The American Cancer Society recommends people use bronzers or self tanners instead of tanning beds or sun bathing.

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