FDA may ban teens from using tanning beds

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made a major move in the fight against skin cancer. Today, the FDA proposed a new set of regulations and safety measures that would ban minors from using indoor tanning beds. It would also require require tanning salons to obtain a signed risk acknowledgment form before a client’s session, much like when one signs up for his or her first tattoo.

Brazil banned the use of tanning beds back in 2009, with Australia following suit earlier this year. Both countries prohibit the use and sale tanning beds across the country, regardless of age. In the U.S., some states (such as Vermont and California) have already banned the use of tanning beds for minors. The FDA’s set of regulations would prohibit it across the country. It’s a small step, but it’s an important one in preventing skin cancer.

Other measures include making sure the tanning bed has a panic button and forbidding the installation of stronger bulbs without prior approval from the FDA.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, those who use tanning beds are 59 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those don’t. The use of indoor tanning beds exposes you to ultraviolet (UV) radiation and increases risk of eye injury, skin damage, and skin cancer – including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

“There is increasing evidence that indoor tanning during childhood and early adult life increases the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma,” says Markham C. Luke, M.D., Ph.D., a dermatologist and the deputy office director of the Office of Device Evaluation at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Hundreds of youth also are injured each year across the country due to using sunlamp products.”

Unlike most cancers, which have experienced declining or static rates, studies show that the rate for skin cancer has risen 3% a year for the last decade, and that youth are at a higher risk for sun damage. Regardless of age, skin is our largest organ, and it needs as much protection as it can get. A great alternative to tanning beds are sunless tanners and washable bronzers, which still give you a glow without any risk of cancer.

The FDA proposal will be open for public comment for 90 days.

(Image via Shutterstock.)