People who start using sunbeds in their teens and 20s are 75 per cent more likely to develop melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reached its conclusion after conducting a thorough literature review into the effects of tanning booths.
The organisation said that the data showed "a prominent and consistent increase in risk for melanoma in people who first used sunbeds in their 20s or teen years" and added that "a 75 per cent increase in risk of melanoma was calculated for such users".
Researchers also found no evidence to support the idea that sunbeds might actually help to stimulate the skin's natural defences and found that the devices do not grant protection against vitamin D deficiency, as some have previously suggested.
They concluded that tanning booths have a damaging effect on the skin's immune response and possibly the eyes.
Between ten and 15 cases of melanoma are registered per 100,000 population in Europe and the disease is on the increase around the world, with the number of cases doubling every 12 to 15 years in the worst-affected places.
As a result of its findings, the IARC is recommending that action is taken to restrict access to artificial tanning units for minors and young adults.
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