On Thursday, March 25, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended stricter controls on tanning beds, especially for those under the age of eighteen.
The committee that represented the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) heard the opinions of numerous experts, all of which advised a total ban on tanning beds for teens, and recommended the visible warning labels should be placed on the machines or in the salons to warn tanners of the dangers.
The panel cited a dramatic increase in tanning bed-related melanoma cases as the cause of their recent decisions. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer according to the American Cancer Society, accounted for more than 70,000 cases of skin cancer in 2009, and is expected to cause 12,000 deaths due to skin cancer each year.
Tanning beds are currently categorized as “low-risk devices.” If the FDA changed their classification to Class II, the federal agency could limit the levels of radiation the machines emit. Unlike sunlight, tanning beds concentrate ultraviolet radiation directly to the skin, so people develop skin cancers at an earlier age.
The World Health Organization recently moved tanning beds to its highest cancer risk category, a category reserved for arsenic and cigarettes. The recently-passed health care bill incorporated a ten percent tax on indoor tanning salons to increase awareness.
The agency does not have to be follow the recommendations of the panel, it traditionally does. The Indoor Tanning Association says the warnings are “exaggerated,” but the FDA believes the changes are necessary. Over the next few months, the FDA will review the proposals and make a decision.