FDA Wants Cancer Warnings on Tanning Beds

MATTHEW PERRONE | AP Health Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) – Indoor tanning beds would carry new warnings about the risk of cancer and be subject to more stringent federal oversight, under a proposal unveiled Monday by the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA wants all tanning beds to carry language warning people under the age of 18 about the risks of indoor tanning. The agency would also require manufacturers to meet certain safety and performance requirements before marketing their devices.

The government action is aimed at curbing cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, which have been on the rise for about 30 years. This year an estimated 76,690 people will be diagnosed with the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.

Recent studies have shown that the risk of melanoma is 75 percent higher in people who have been exposed to ultraviolet radiation from indoor tanning. While most cases are diagnosed in people in their 40s and 50s, the disease is linked to sun exposure at a young age.

Medical groups like the American Academy of Dermatology have been urging the U.S. government to take action on tanning beds for years, citing increases in the number of cases of skin cancer among women in their teens and twenties. Dermatologists say indoor tanning advertisements directly appeal to teenagers' desire to be attractive.

Currently the machines are classified as low-risk devices, in the same group as bandages and tongue depressors. By increasing their classification to moderate-risk, or class II, devices the FDA proposal could limit the levels of radiation the devices emit and make other changes to their design.

"The FDA's proposed changes will help address some of the risks associated with sunlamp products and provide consumers with clear and consistent information," FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in a statement.

The agency said it will take comments on its proposal for 90 days.

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