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Tanning Beds Should Carry Skin Cancer Warnings, FDA Says

Tanning Beds Need Skin Cancer Warning to Limit Use, FDA Proposes
A customer gets into a tanning bed in Los Angeles, California. Photographer: Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg

Tanning beds would be required to warn young people of the dangers of skin cancer and face tighter oversight under a proposal from U.S. regulators.

The Food and Drug Administration proposed that sunlamp products recommend against use by those younger than 18 years old and warn frequent users to regularly screen for cancer. The proposed order would also require sunlamp products seek FDA clearance before sale, the agency said yesterday in a statement.

The risk of melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer, rises 75 percent in those exposed to ultraviolet radiation from indoor tanning, the FDA said. The agency has been reviewing its oversight of tanning beds since 2010 and still could propose banning the products for use by young people, said Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

“We view this as a first step,” Shuren said during a conference call with reporters. “Nothing is off the table.”

The warnings would go on tanning beds as well as in brochures on the machines, he said. The beds now are regulated as low-risk devices by the agency, similar to elastic bandages.

An estimated 76,690 people will develop melanoma this year in the U.S. and 9,480 will die from the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2009 added ultraviolet radiation from tanning machines to a danger category of carcinogens that includes radon and plutonium.

The agency said it would accept public comments on the proposed order for 90 days. The earliest the FDA may issue a final order is the end of this year and then there would be a 15-month implementation period, Shuren said.

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