Study says tanning beds cause cancer, but users undeterred

Despite a new study deeming tanning beds as likely to cause cancer as smoking cigarettes, tanning salon owners say they're not too worried about business.

"This is normal," said Sue Dickman, owner of Planet Beach Contempo Spa in Sacramento. "It happens every couple of years that this whole thing gets blown out of proportion. But we've still had people coming in all day."

Tanning beds were announced as "carcinogenic to humans" Wednesday by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, affiliated with the World Health Organization. The agency recommended tanning beds be moved into the top cancer risk category, on the same level as cigarettes, plutonium, arsenic and mustard gas.

Investigations into about 20 different studies concluded that all types of ultraviolet rays are harmful, said researchers led by Dr. Fatiha El Ghissaissi, a France-based WHO oncology expert. Researchers found the risk of developing skin melanoma — the deadliest form of skin cancer — increases 75 percent when a person begins using tanning beds before 30.

For many people, societal pressure outweighs science, despite the highly publicized risks.

"I probably shouldn't tan as much as I do," said Ashley O'Con, an 18-year-old California State University, Sacramento, freshman from Roseville, Calif.