In 2009 the World Health Organisation declared tanning beds to be carcinogens, contrary to the tanning bed industry's claims that solar radiation-related mutations are primarily caused by UVB rays. New research shows that sun-bed users are at an even higher level of risk from skin cancer than previously feared. UVA is generally implicated in the onset of wrinkles and premature skin ageing, but Professor Antony Young, leading a research team at Kings College London, found that cells damaged deep down by UVA can divide very quickly and subsequently lead to cancer.
The research study, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, involved 12 young British volunteers whose skin was examined under UV light before being sample-tested for potentially cancerous damage. UVB was found to be a major cause of damage at surface level, but it was discovered that UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin to damage DNA cells beneath the skin's outer surface. Damage at this level, where the cells divide, is particularly worrying as unlike on the surface of the skin where UVB damage is visible, the deeper layers can mutate unseen to form cancer cells. Dr Elmets, Professor of Dermatology at Alabama University, recently commented that this lower dermis damage was "a particular concern because... the target cells of nonmelanoma skin cancers are thought to reside in that location."
Support for the new research has already been voiced by several skin experts including Dr Nick Lowe, who has previously conducted studies on the harmful effects of very small amounts of UVA radiation on the skin (published 1995) says: "This important paper adds to our growing knowledge that UVA is damaging to the skin and increases skin cancer risk as well as causing skin ageing."
Serious skin cancer cases have more than doubled over the last two decades and rates of malignant melanoma, the most dangerous skin cancer, are on the rise in the UK, with over 2000 related deaths and almost 12000 cases developing in Britons per year. Dermatologists including Dr. Lowe advise the public to take extra precautions in strong sunlight by applying a high-factor sunscreen at all times during sun exposure, and avoiding the use of sunbeds. All of Dr Nick Lowe's day creams protect against both UVA and UVB - try the award-winning Super Charged SPF15 Day Cream, which offers 3* UVA protection as well as soothing and improving qualities.