The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has strengthened its warnings about the risk of skin cancer, in particular melanoma, associated with tanning beds and sunlamps.
The American Academy of Dermatology and the World Health Organization warn that indoor tanning heightens the risk of developing melanoma by 59 percent. Melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer, and the risk increases with each indoor tanning session, according to the FDA.
Nearly 13,000 people die each year from skin cancers, about 9,700 from melanoma, the American Cancer Society (ACS) says. The ACS predicts melanoma will account for more than 75,000 cases of skin cancer in 2014. Because the effects of UV radiation are cumulative, children and teenagers exposed to UV radiation from tanning beds, tanning booths, and sunlamps are at greater risk for skin and eye damage. Studies in the journal Pediatrics say that melanoma is the second most common cancer in women in their twenties and third most common in men in their twenties. The increase in indoor tanning by teenagers and young adults is one reason for the increase, the FDA says. The research in Pediatrics shows that UV radiation emitted by high-pressure sunlamps may be 10 to 15 times higher than that of the midday sun. The World Health Organization has classified all UV radiation – whatever the source – as cancer causing.
To address skin cancer risks, the FDA has reclassified sunlamps and indoor tanning apparatus from Class I (low risk) to Class II (moderate risk). This subjects such products to greater regulatory control and they must carry a number of warnings: they are not to be used by anyone under age 18; they are not to be used if skin lesions or open wounds are present; and they should not be used by anyone who has had skin cancer or has a family history of skin cancer. Further, the FDA advises that people repeatedly exposed to UV radiation should have regular skin cancer screenings.