FDA Wants Warning Labels On Tanning Beds

It also wants tanning lamps reclassified as moderate risk devices.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Hey, kids! The U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants you to know that it doesn’t recommend tanning beds to those of you under 18. And it’d like to require tanning lamp manufacturers to carry that warning, although it won’t legally prohibit minors from tanning.

The agency is publishing a proposal on Thursday (until then, you can find a pre-publication version at the link) with a few new rules it wants for tanning lamps. Other changes include reclassifying the lamps as moderate risk devices, instead of low-risk devices, and requiring manufacturers to submit performance tests to the FDA.

The FDA’s number-one concern about the lamps is melanoma, the rarest, but deadliest, of the three types of skin cancer. The American Academy of Dermatology, which supports the FDA action, has found that those who tan indoors have a 75 percent increased risk for getting melanoma. The average person has a 2 percent risk of developing melanoma over a lifetime.

Check out this, this and this for some of the studies that have linked tanning-bed use with increased melanoma risk. That last study, conducted in 1,083 people in Australia, found that melanoma risk increases with just one tanning bed session, and it increases with every use. Studies have also found that people who used tanning lamps at younger ages versus older ages have a higher risk of melanoma.

The FDA concluded that while some tanning lamps do help users produce vitamin D, it’s not clear if that’s worth the risk. Supplements are a safer way to get vitamin D, the agency said. And getting a “base tan” doesn’t protect much against sunburn, nor does it protect at all against premature aging and cancer.

Once the proposal is officially published on Thursday, it’ll be open for public comment for 90 days.