FDA Moves to Keep Teens Out of Tanning Beds
Dec. 18, 2015 — Citing a rise in skin cancer among young people, the FDA proposed rules Friday that would keep anyone under the age of 18 from using high-powered UV sunlamps, such as those in tanning beds.
Under the new rules, anyone 18 and over will also be required to sign a waiver every 6 months that says they understand that using these lamps has health risks that include burns and skin cancers.
Tanning lamps give off ultraviolet radiation that’s 10 to 15 times stronger than the midday sun, said Vasum Peiris, MD, MPH, of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, in a news conference.
Skin damage caused by the UV radiation adds up over a person’s lifetime, so the concentrated doses delivered by tanning beds are especially dangerous for children and teens.
In 2014, the FDA reclassified tanning beds from lower risk to moderate risk devices. They also required them to carry the strongest type of safety caution, a black-box warning stating they shouldn’t be used by anyone under age 18, those with open wounds or injuries, or people with a family history of skin cancer. The agency also advised people who routinely use tanning beds to get regular skin cancer checks.
A month later, the surgeon general issued a call to action to prevent skin cancer that singled out the beds as a preventable cause of the disease.
But high schoolers have kept using tanning beds despite the beefed-up warnings, Peiris said, and that’s prompted the need for stronger action.
The Indoor Tanning Association, however, disputed the need for more oversight.
“The indoor tanning industry is heavily regulated at both the federal and state levels, and our customers are well aware of the potential risks of over-exposure,” the ITA said in an e-mailed statement.
“The ITA believes that the decision regarding whether or not a teen suntans, whether indoors or outside, is a decision for his/her parents, not the government.”
Melanoma is one of the most common cancers in young adults, and it’s on the rise, with the biggest increase in recent decades seen in girls ages 15 to 19, Peiris said.