FDA Proposes Increased Labeling, Oversight for Indoor Tanning Beds

tanning-beds-warningsA recent story discussing proposed tanning bed regulations has been corrected to indicate that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seeks cancer warnings on the devices as well as increased safety requirements.

The Washington Post announced that an Associated Press story published May 6th erroneously stated that an FDA proposal would not mandate warnings on the actual tanning bed devices and would simply require warnings on the beds’ promotional materials. In fact, upon finalization of the proposal, warning labels would be required within one year of the proposal going into effect, said The Washington Post.

AP Health now reports that indoor tanning beds would come with warnings about cancer risks and would be subject to increased federal oversight should the proposal released this week by the FDA pass.

Although the FDA has had regulatory oversight for tanning beds and sun lamps for over three decades, this is the first time the agency has said the devices should not be used by people under 18 years of age, said AP Health. The agency also wants warnings to be placed on the devices, in pamphlets describing the devices, and in catalogues and on websites promoting the use of indoor tanning. The FDA also proposed that indoor tanning bed makers meet specific safety and design requirements, such as timers and radiation emission limitations.

People who use tanning beds are 69 percent likelier to develop basal cell cancer (BCC) before turning 40, versus people who never used a tanning bed. The risk is more prevalent in women and appears to increase with years of tanning bed use, according to a study conducted by doctors at Yale University published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. BCC has been on the rise with rates increasing 17 percent since the 1970s.

The findings support prior research from the University of Minnesota, which found that tanning bed users—no matter what type of tanning or for how long they tanned—were 74 percent likelier to develop melanoma, the deadliest and most serious type of skin cancer. More than three-quarters of all skin cancer-related deaths are from melanoma and about one person dies of melanoma every hour in the United States. The risk of melanoma is 75 percent higher in people exposed to ultraviolet radiation from indoor tanning, said the AP, and is associated with sun exposure at a young age.

According to the American Association for Cancer Research, a study revealed a connection between tanning beds and three common skin cancers: BCC, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. In fact, people who regularly tan on these devices run the risk of doubling, even tripling, their risks of developing melanoma, one of the most common cancers among young adults in the U.S. and which is on the rise in all age groups.

Indoor tanning beds are classified as low-risk devices and are in the same group of devices as bandages and tongue depressors. The FDA’s proposal would increase tanning bed classification to moderate-risk—Class II devices—which would allow the agency to review the devices’ safety and design before they could be sold. The agency will be taking comments on its proposal for 90 days before coming up with a final regulation, said AP Health.

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