The FDA has regulated tanning beds and sun lamps for over 30 years, but for the first time the agency now says tanning devices shouldn't be used by anyone under 18, reports the Associated Press.
The bottom (tan) line of the FDA's tanning beds proposal is to increase awareness of tanning bed risks.
The FDA's Proposal
Many states, including California, have considered completely banning teens from using tanning beds, so the FDA's warning label move isn't actually that radical. But it is on the federal level, which is always a big deal -- especially since it could influence state laws.
The government's goal is to curb melanoma cases, the deadliest form of skin cancer. About 2.3 million U.S. teenagers tan indoors each year, and melanoma is the second most common form of cancer among young adults, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Unless you've been living under a rock (or a tanning bed), you know that ultraviolet radiation increases the chances of melanoma. But did you know by how much?
According to recent studies, the risk of melanoma is 75% higher in people who have been exposed to ultraviolet radiation from indoor tanning, reports the AP. (75%! You guys, that's not that far from 100%!)
Currently the machines are classified as low-risk devices (Class I), in the same group as bandages and tongue depressors. The FDA's proposal would increase their classification to moderate-risk (Class II) devices.
That bump in risk level would give the FDA the ability to review sunlamp products' safety and design before manufacturers begin selling them.
Time for Public Comment
The "coolest" part about the proposal is that the FDA will take the public's feelings into consideration before publishing a final rule. Here's an excellent how-to video on how to offer a comment to the FDA. The agency will take comments on the tanning bed proposal for 90 days.
Dr. Mary Maloney of the American Academy of Dermatology calls the FDA action an important first step, but still wants a straight-up ban on indoor tanning for teens.
Keep your eyes (not your skin) peeled for more information.