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FDA Orders New Warning Labels for Tanning Beds

All sunlamp devices must warn against use by people under 18, agency says

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Just in time for summer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced on Thursday that tanning beds and tanning booths now must carry a visible warning explicitly stating that the devices should not be used on people under age 18.

"There's mounting evidence showing that indoor tanning in childhood and early adult life further increases risk of melanoma later in life due to greater lifetime exposure," Nancy Stade, deputy director for policy at the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a press conference announcing the order.

However, the order does not outright ban teen use of tanning beds. "It reflects a very strong statement by the FDA that they should not be used by individuals under age 18," Stade said.

The CDC estimates that about 13 percent of all high school students have used indoor tanning, Stade said. Teenage girls are most likely to use the devices, with 32 percent of all 12th grade girls reporting that they had used a tanning bed.

The FDA will also require manufacturers to warn in their advertisements and marketing materials that these and other tanning devices put users at greater risk for skin cancer, the agency said in a news release.

The FDA's order on the issue also reclassified sunlamps and UV lamps from low-risk to moderate-risk devices.

"The FDA has taken an important step today to address the risk to public health from sunlamp products," Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in the agency new release. "Repeated UV exposure from sunlamp products poses a risk of skin cancer for all users -- but the highest risk for skin cancer is in young persons under the age of 18 and people with a family history of skin cancer."

Tanning beds and sunlamps emit UV rays that have been linked to skin cancer, burns, premature skin aging and eye damage, the FDA said.

People who have been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning experience a 59 percent increase in the risk of melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

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