Surgeon General Issues Warnings About Skin Cancer, Tanning Beds

FDA-skin-cancer-warning-on_tanning_bedsExperts agree that tanning—whether from natural sunlight or from tanning salons—is creating a major health issue in the United States and is increasing risks for certain cancers, some deadly.

The U.S. Surgeon General, Borish Lushniak, just warned that, when outside, people should remain in the shade and should wear sunscreen. Tanning booths, said Lushniak, should be avoided, wrote News Ledge.

The Surgeon General told The Washington Post that, “Right now we’re seeing kind of a bad trend developing when it comes to skin cancers. Skin cancers—melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer—are increasing. It got to the point for us, right now, to be able to say, ‘We need to have this call to action.’”

In the United States, skin cancers are increasing. In fact, some 5 million people in the United States are treated for cancer annually, of these, 63,000 cases are deemed serious and 6,000 are tied to tanning beds, according to News Ledge.

People who use tanning beds are 69 percent likelier to develop basal cell cancer (BCC) prior to the age of 40, when compared to people who never used a tanning bed. The risk is more commonly seen in women and increases 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.

These findings support earlier research from the University of Minnesota, which found that tanning bed users—no matter what type of tanning or for how long individuals tanned—were 74 percent likelier to develop melanoma, which is considered 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 greater in people who have been exposed to ultraviolet radiation from indoor tanning and is associated with sun exposure at an early age, according to a prior The Associated Press report.

Also, according to the American Association for Cancer Research, another earlier study revealed an association between tanning beds and three common skin cancers: BCC, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. The study found that people who regularly tan on these devices run the risk of doubling, even tripling, their risks of developing melanoma, which is now one of the most common cancers among young adults in the United States and which is also on the rise in all age groups.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has previously indicated that it seeks cancer warnings on sun tanning bed devices along with increased safety requirements. The Associated Press Health reported that indoor tanning beds would come with warnings concerning cancer risks and would be subject to increased federal oversight.

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