FDA wants warning labels on tanning devices

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing that manufacturers of sunlamp products, including indoor tanning beds and booths, add a label to these items warning minors not to use them.

The FDA and many other organizations have reported that ultraviolet (UV) tanning lamps, such as those used in indoor tanning beds, raise the risks of skin damage, skin cancer, and eye injury. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, people who use indoor tanning devices are 75% more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors, and the risk increases with use.

Because the effects of exposure to UV rays add up over the course of a lifetime, UV exposure in children and teenagers puts them at greater risk for skin and eye damage later in life, explained the FDA in a statement summarizing the agency's suggested changes to the way sunlamps are regulated.

“The World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Medical Association, and other organizations have previously supported what the FDA is now proposing: a recommendation that minors refrain from indoor tanning,” noted the agency in the statement.

At present, the FDA regulates sunlamp products both as medical devices and as radiation-emitting products. Based on new risk information and recommendations from experts made at an FDA Medical Device Advisory Committee meeting, the agency is now proposing to reclassify devices from Class I to Class II. The FDA can exert more regulatory control over Class II devices.

In addition to this classification change, the agency wants the warning label for minors as well as another warning label stating that people who are repeatedly exposed to sunlamp products should see their health care provider on a regular basis to check for possible skin cancer.

The agency will be accepting public comments on the proposed changes through August 7, 2013.

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