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FDA: New warning stickers coming to a tanning bed near you

The FDA bumps up its efforts to keep kids from tanning
Can a warning sticker keep tannorexic kids from indoor tanning?
People who use indoor tanning beds before age 35 increase their risk of developing melanoma by almost 75%

The FDA wants to deter teenagers from using tanning beds, and officials are hoping a new warning sticker will help.

Citing evidence that tanning in young adulthood is related to an increase risk of skin cancer later in life, the Food and Drug Administration will require sunlamp products to display a sticker that says they should not be used by people younger than 18. 

"It is not a restriction; however, it is one of the strongest warnings that could come from the FDA," an agency spokeswoman said. 

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, indoor tanning heightens the risk of developing melanoma by 59%, and the risk goes up with each use.

For people who start indoor tanning when they are young, however, those odds get even worse. The Skin Care Foundation says people who use indoor tanning beds and booths before the age of 35 increase their risk of developing melanoma by almost 75%. 

Those statistics have not stopped young people from hitting the tanning salons, however. A 2013 study by researchers from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention found that 29.3% of white high school girls went to an indoor tanning parlor at least once a year, and 16.7% went at least 10 times in 12 months.

In the meantime, the American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 13,000 people die each year from skin cancers; 9,700 of those are from melanoma.

To help protect consumers from the risks posed by tanning beds, the new regulations also require makers of sunlamp products to include warnings about the risks of tanning in user instructions, as well as marketing materials.

In addition, the agency bumped tanning beds up from a low-risk device like tongue depressors and bandages to a moderate-risk device. The new classification means manufacturers will now have to show their products meet certain requirements before they can market them. 

California, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Texas and Vermont ban tanning bed use by people younger than 18, and at least 39 states have implemented lesser restrictions such as requiring parental permission before minors go tanning.

Around the globe, Brazil has outlawed the use of tanning beds altogether, and Britain, Germany, Scotland, France and parts of Canada and Australia have made it illegal for people younger than 18 to use tanning beds.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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