Tanning Bed Restrictions Would Ban Children, Require Risk Waiver for Adults

The FDA proposed two new rules on Friday that would place severe restrictions on indoor tanning due to the risk of skin cancer and burns, banning use of tanning beds by those under 18 and requiring adults to regularly sign waivers acknowledging that they have been warned about the tanning bed risks.

The tanning bed restrictions proposed by the FDA come amid continuing concerns about the link between indoor tanning salons and cancer, and the popularity of the devices among children and teens.

Under the new rules, individuals under the age of 18 will be banned from using any indoor tanning beds or tanning lamps. In addition, those over the age of 18 would be required to sign a risk acknowledgement certification every six months, stating that they were informed of the indoor tanning risks.

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More than 1.6 million minors use indoor tanning beds every year, according to data from the 2013 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, heightening their risk of skin cancer.

Researchers warn the effects of using tanning beds accumulates over a lifetime, putting teens and young tanners at higher risk of experiencing adverse effects later in life. Teens who use tanning beds compared to those that tan outdoors, face a higher risk of developing basal cell carcinoma.

There are more than 400,000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed every year, including 6,000 cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Many of these cases have been specifically attributed to the use of tanning beds.

Research from 2012 suggested that indoor tanning before the age of 35 increases the risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent.

“Today’s action is intended to help protect young people from a known and preventable cause of skin cancer and other harms,” acting FDA Commissioner Stephen Ostroff, M.D, said in the FDA announcement. “Individuals under 18 years are at greatest risk of the adverse health consequences of indoor tanning.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn that the risk posed by indoor tanning devices, including tanning beds and tanning lamps, is not only the risk of cancer. An average of 3,000 emergency room visits occur every year in the U.S. because of other injuries related to indoor tanning.

The second proposed FDA rule would help to improve the safety of indoor tanning devices overall. The rule include provisions to strengthen tanning device warnings so they are easier to read and more prominently placed. It also requires an emergency shut off switch, or a panic button.

Additionally, safety eyewear must be improved to limit the amount of light allowed through the protective eyewear; and replacement bulbs labeling must be improved so operators can ensure they replace old bulbs with correct replacements, reducing accidental burns.

Finally, the rule prohibits any modifications to tanning devices that could pose a risk to users, such as replacing bulbs with stronger, more harmful, bulbs.

The proposed rules and restrictions would apply to manufacturers and tanning facility operators. There are nearly 19,000 tanning salons in the U.S. and another 20,000 other facilities, like health clubs or spas, that have tanning beds in them. Research published last year found tanning salons outnumbered McDonald’s restaurants in Florida.

Research from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of the World Health Organization, has concluded that tanning devices are more dangerous than previously thought. The IARC moved tanning devices to the highest cancer risk category deemed “carcinogenic  to humans.”

Tanning devices can cause skin cancer, burns, premature skin aging and eye damage. A 2006 IARC review of tanning bed research found an association between tanning and two types of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. It also found an association between UV emitting tanning devices and eye cancer.


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