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SUNLAMPS COULD BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR EYES

Sunlamps that emit ultraviolet radiation have been linked to skin cancer, but a British scientist is now warning that exposure could also lead to an increased risk of eye cancer.

In a letter to the British Medical Journal, Paul Dolin said three U.S. case-control studies had examined the relationship between eye cancer and the use of sunlamps."Collectively, these studies suggest that use of a sunlamp may be associated with a twofold to fourfold increase in the risk of developing intraocular melanoma," said Dolin, who is an epidemiologist at the Institute of Ophthalmology in London.

But Dolin, in a telephone interview, said the studies were not very up to date and more work needed to be done to establish whether there was a direct causal link.

"In the U.K., what we now need is to set up a good epidemiological study to investigate whether or not this is a real link," Dolin said, adding that he had written to several clinicians in London urging them to join in a research project.

He said he had written his BMJ letter to alert the general public and doctors to the possible link between sunlamps and eye cancer, which he felt were not sufficiently well known.

Eye tumors, which are rare, develop on the retina and llke most cancers can be fatal if left untreated.

In May, doctors from the British Medical Association, Britain's Health Department and the Health Education Authority issued a strongly worded statement warning against the use of sunlamps.

They said the radiation from tanning booths not only aged skin but could cause cancer and possibly depress the immune system. Even proponents recommend that sunlamp users limit themselves to two courses of 10 sessions a year.