In an unprecedented move, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or, in short, the FDA bars minors from indoor tanning over cancer concerns. The new rules, which were issued Friday, also request from tanning saloon customers that are over 18 to sign a form saying that they understand the risks when they use a tanning device.
Under the FDA’s rules, the devices used for indoor tanning are classified as medical devices.The agency now plans to request from makers to add a panic button to their tanning beds or lamps, to clearly mention on their products’ labels the risks the procedure involves, and take other safety measures.
Surprisingly, many people believe that indoor tanning is less risky than plainly sit out in the sun. Dr. Vasum Peiris of the FDA argued that indoor tanning may be even riskier than sunbathing because devices deliver high amounts of UV radiation in an incredibly short time, thus, boosting the risk of skin cancer.
Peiris explained that some lamps are so powerful that they can expose the skin to radiation that is 10 to 15 times more powerful than that of the midday sun. This is why the American Cancer Society (ACS) hailed the new FDA rules because they would help with the reduction of skin cancer incidence and melanoma-related deaths.
The American Academy of Dermatology recently found that people who use tanning devices are 59 percent more likely to develop the most aggressive form of skin cancer, also known as melanoma, than people who stay away from tanning saloons.
ACS researchers explained that once a patient is diagnosed with melanoma and the tumor starts spreading there’s little doctors can do about, so the patient is virtually facing a death sentence.
The ACS also praised the FDA’s decision to raise awareness especially among the U.S. youth over the risks of indoor tanning and high UV radiation exposure. In a recent statement, the ACS underscored that tanning devices are far from being safe.
But the FDA has been trying for years to restrict tanning devices’ use among young people. For instance, tanning equipment already needs to carry a black-box label that bars the devices from being used by minors.
The Indoor Tanning Association, on the other hand, was displeased with the recent decision. The group added that the issue should be settled by kids’ parents, not a federal agency.
The Indoor Tanning Association recently told reporters that the new regulations would make the financial situation of its members even worse due to additional costs in an already sensitive economic climate.
But Peiris added that the agency has yet to release the guidelines on how the new rules would be enforced. We suspect that devices that don’t meet the new standards would be seized, while law enforcement and the Justice Department would be prompted to bring offenders to justice.
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