LONDON -- International cancer experts say tanning beds and ultraviolet radiation are as deadly as arsenic and mustard gas.
Experts with the World Health Organization are moving both them into the top cancer risk category, describing them as "probable carcinogens." That puts tanning beds alongside tobacco, the hepatitis B virus and chimney sweeping.
A fresh analysis of about 20 studies finds that people who start using tanning beds before the age of 30 increase their risk of cancer by 75 percent. Most lights used in the beds give off mainly ultraviolet radiation, and the International Agency for Cancer Research says that can cause skin and eye cancer.
One of the researchers says the team hopes the findings will change "the prevailing culture" so teens don't think they need to use sunbeds.
But the head of a European trade association for tanning bed makers and operators disputes the findings. She says the link between skin cancer and "responsible use of sunbeds" has never been proven.
The research was published online in the medical journal Lancet Oncology.
Copyright 2009 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.