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Skin Cancer: Tanning Lamp Regulations Proposed For First Time In 30 Years By FDA

By Hilda Scott , May 07, 2013 10:50 AM EDT
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Officials from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed that indoor tanning beds should have new warnings about the risk of cancer. Tanning beds and sun lamps have been regulated for over three decades, and the FDA wants to tighten up on the rules even more.

For the first time, the agency is applying an age limit and said that tanning beds and lamps should not be used by people under 18 years old. The agency proposes that tanning promotional tools should feature tanning risk warnings, including pamphlets, catalogues and websites.

The FDA also proposes that tanning lamps which are currently regulated as low-risk devices will be re-categorized under the new regulation changes. The low-risk class 1 rating puts tanning machines in the same category as bandages and tongue depressors. The director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Jeff Shuren, said that tanning lamps would be placed in class 2, which are moderate risk devices, the same category as CT scanners, which also expose people to radiation.

Tanning machine manufacturers would be reviewed for safety and design before they hit the market, under the new proposal.

"They don't have to provide any data in advance before they go on the market, so we have no way of providing assurance that the tanning beds are performing up to specifications," Shuren said.

Melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer and the second most common type of cancer among young adults. Each year in the United States, an estimated 2.3 million teenagers tan indoors, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

The new FDA regulations are aiming at reducing the cases of melanoma, which has been on the rise for 30 years. People who have been exposed to ultraviolet radiation are 75 percent more at risk of melanoma, as recent studies have shown. The disease is linked to sun exposure at a young age, although most cases are diagnosed among people in their 40s and 50s. 

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