International cancer experts say that sunbeds are as dangerous as smoking or exposure to asbestos.

 Research published in the Lancet Oncology Medical Journal found that the greatest risk of sunbeds was to children and young adults. The Sunbed Association, which represents tanning companies in the UK and Ireland refute these claims and say there is no proven link between responsible use of sunbeds and skin cancer.

They're a quick fix for those with pale complexions but for years there's been question marks about their long term damage.

The research claims that sunbeds are more dangerous than previously thought on a par with smoking or exposure to asbestos. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has recommended that sunbeds be moved to the highest cancer risk category. 

Responding to the research findings, Dr Cal Condon, Consultant Dermatologist at the Blackrock Clinic says.

That sort of sudden exposure of the whole body to intense light causes damage to DNA and that in turn increases your risk of skin cancer.

The study found that the risk of melanoma increased by seventy five per cent by those who started using sunbeds before the age of thirty. The problem is highlighted by the findings of research from 2007 which found that thirty four per cent of sunbed users in Ireland were under nineteen years old when they started using them. 

The Irish Cancer Society has again called for a ban on the use of sunbeds for anyone under eighteen years of age. 

David Tracey, owner of Tanzone, claims that the latest research is one sided and says it is more dangerous to go out in the sun than to use a sunbed. 

A report by the National Cancer Forum in 2006 recommended new laws to regulate the sunbed industry. The government is now considering restrictive measures. 

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 29 July 2009. The reporter is Samantha Libreri.