Washington May 6 Tanning beds and sunlamps will
be required to carry stronger warning labels under new
regulations proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,
which is also recommending the machines not be used by people
under the age of 18.
The FDA said on Monday that it plans to reclassify sunbeds
from low-risk to moderate-risk products, meaning they will need
to be cleared by the agency before being allowed onto the
Faulty equipment has led to patients being burned or exposed
to too much radiation, Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA's
center for devices and radiological health, said in an
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United
States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention. Basal cell and squamous cell cancer, the two most
common forms, are generally curable; but melanoma, the third
most common type, is deadly.
In 2009, the most recent year numbers are available, 61,646
people in the United States were diagnosed with melanoma and
9,199 people died, according to the CDC.
The FDA's proposed regulations stop short of recommendations
made by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of
the World Health Organization, which in 2009 concluded that
commercial tanning devices were more dangerous that previously
thought and recommended people under 18 be banned from using
The FDA's regulations also stop short of new rules being
developed by some U.S. states.
More than 30 states regulate the use of tanning facilities
to differing degrees. Delaware, New Hampshire and North Dakota,
for example, ban the use of indoor tanning by anyone under age
14 unless medically necessary and they require parental consent
for those between the ages of 14 and 18.
Some states, including Georgia, Illinois and Maine, ban
tanning beds for children under the age of 14, and eighteen
states require tanning bed operators to limit exposure time to a
manufacturers' recommendations and provide eye protection.
In January 2012, California became the first state to ban
tanning beds for all people under 18.
The Indoor Tanning Association argues vigorously that the
decision on whether a teen is allowed to suntan is one for
parents, not government, and it supports parental consent. But
it is fighting the growing number of states issuing bans.
"Is the next step to ban teens from sun bathing at public
beaches and pools?" the association asked in a statement last
year in opposition to New Jersey's proposal to ban tanning bed
use for those under 17.
"You also have to consider the health risks associated with
banning teenagers from using tanning salons," it said. "They
will just go outside with no adult supervision and no trained
staff where they are much more likely to get sunburned."
The FDA's actions follow a 2010 meeting of a federal
advisory panel which unanimously recommended that the agency
reclassify tanning devices. Panelists had mixed views on whether
to implement a ban on minors.
An estimated 5.6 percent of U.S. adults reported indoor
tanning at least once in 2010, with the highest rates among
white, female 18 to 25-year-olds, according to the CDC, which
notes that frequent exposure to UV rays for people under the age
of 35 increases the risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent.
"For right now our proposal tries to focus on providing
better information for consumers," Shuren said, "including a
warning on the tanning beds themselves that they shouldn't be
used in people under 18," he said.
Depending on the feedback the agency receives to its
proposal, it may make changes to the final order, he said.
(Reporting By Toni Clarke in Washington; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)