U.S. to ban minors from tanning beds

Dec 18, 2015, 4:09 PM EST
Source: Evil Erin/flickr
Source: Evil Erin/flickr
The United States’ Food and Drug Administration has proposed steps to prevent people under the age of 18 from using sunlamp products, also referred to as tanning beds. The F.D.A. says this is a step to protect public health, and reducing the risk of using these devices for adults. The F.D.A.’s official announcement reads:
Indoor tanning is a known contributor to skin cancer, including melanoma (its most deadly form), and other skin damage. Yet, 1.6 million minors indoor tan each year, increasing their risk of skin cancer and other damage (based on data in the 2013 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey).
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, those who have been exposed to radiation from indoor tanning are 59 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors.
In addition, the effects of exposure to UV radiation add up over one’s lifetime. Therefore, UV radiation exposure in children and teenagers puts them at a greater risk for skin and eye damage later in life.
“Today’s action is intended to help protect young people from a known and preventable cause of skin cancer and other harms,” said Dr. Stephen Ostroff, the acting F.D.A. commissioner. “Individuals under 18 are at greatest risk of the adverse health consequences of indoor tanning.”
For decades, researchers saw indoor tanning as little more than a curiosity. But a review of the scientific evidence published last year estimated that tanning beds account for as many as 400,000 cases of skin cancer in the United States each year, including 6,000 cases of melanoma, the deadliest form.
In 2014, the FDA reclassified tanning beds from lower risk to moderate risk devices. They also required them to carry the strongest type of safety caution, a black-box warning stating they shouldn’t be used by anyone under age 18, those with open wounds or injuries, or people with a family history of skin cancer. The agency also advised people who routinely use tanning beds to get regular skin cancer checks.
A month later, the surgeon general issued a call to action to prevent skin cancer that singled out the beds as a preventable cause of the disease.
But high schoolers have kept using tanning beds despite the beefed-up warnings, Peiris said, and that’s prompted the need for stronger action.
The Indoor Tanning Association, however, disputed the need for more oversight.