FDA Proposes New Tanning-Bed Warnings

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If the FDA gets its way, tanning beds may soon feature labels warning young people to steer clear of the machines and their jolts of UV radiation.

“Using indoor tanning beds can damage your skin and increase your risk of developing skin cancer,” said FDA commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg in the FDA’s statement. “The FDA’s proposed changes will help address some of the risks associated with sunlamp products and provide consumers with clear and consistent information.”

(MORE: Study Finds Dramatic Rise in Skin Cancer Among Young Adults)

On Monday, the FDA unveiled a proposal that would require tanning-bed manufacturers to prove that their devices provide labeling of their risks. The labels would also caution that frequent tanners should be regularly screened for skin cancer. If the proposal is passed, the manufacturers will have to seek FDA approval for their machines.

The move is in an effort to curb skin cancer, especially in young people. The FDA cites American Academy of Dermatology statistics that document a 75% increase in melanoma risk among tanning-bed users; the risk increases with each use.

Last April, a Mayo Clinic study reported that from 1970 to 2009, the incidence of melanoma increased eightfold among young women and fourfold among young men ages 18 to 39. In April, study author Dr. Jerry Brewer, a Mayo Clinic dermatologist, told TIME, “Tanning beds can give you seven times the dose of UV radiation as the sun, but young adults are still going.”

(MORE: Fake Tans Help Keep Women Out of the Sun)

In 2009, the International Agency for Research on Cancer declared tanning beds a human carcinogen, which catapulted the devices into the same cancer-risk category as cigarettes. But young people don’t perceive the risks as being equal and ignore the warnings of UV-radiation exposure, Brewer said.

The FDA is allowing a 90-day period for public commenting before it issues a final order. Tanning-bed manufacturers will have a year to comply with the rules.

Read more about the proposal here.

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