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FDA consider tougher regulations on tanning beds

Do you know how dangerous tanning beds are? Did you know that they increase your risk of melanoma by nearly 75 percent?

We are in the middle of peak tanning season, as teenage girls and young women get ready for prom and summer weddings. However, tanning beds could soon be the latest products to carry warning labels, alerting users to the risk of skin cancer and indicating that the devices should not be used by anyone younger than 18.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced plans on Monday, May 6, to change the way that the sunlamps in tanning beds are regulated.

Currently, the lamps are considered “low-risk” class 1 devices —  the same category as tongue depressors and Band-Aids. Products in this category are not required to be reviewed before going on the market. Under the proposed FDA change, tanning lamps would be class 2 devices, in the same category as CT scanners.

Also, tanning machines will contain warning labels that customers should not use them if they have skin cancer or any open skin lesions, or if they have a family history of skin cancer.

Currently, about 2.3 million teen-agers use tanning beds each year. Studies have found that 58 percent of teens and 66 percent of female college students who use tanning beds get sunburned. They got burned one in every five times that they tanned.

Although the FDA is not proposing a ban on minors using tanning beds, some states and cities already have bans in place. Cities such as Chicago and New York have passed the bans hoping to stem the growing trend of girls tanning at younger ages.

Earlier this year, a study of Missouri tanning salons found that 65 percent of 250 businesses surveyed would accept children ages 10 to 12, often without parental permission. The study was conducted by dermatologists at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Why is the FDA so worried about tanning beds?

  • Tanning lamps expose people to 10 times as much ultraviolet light as the sun.
  • The World Health Organization classifies ultraviolet light as a carcinogen, in the same category as cigarette smoke.
  • Just one session in a tanning booth increases the risk of melanoma by 74 percent
  • Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is now the most common form of cancer among people ages 25 to 29

If you are going to use a tanning bed, make sure you keep these risks in mind. It is up to you to make the best decision for yourself or your children about if tanning beds are the right choice.