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Tanning Beds Are Dangerous Medical Devices, Says FDA

"Attention: This sunlamp product should not be used on persons under the age of 18 years."

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)) recently announced that it was recommending all indoor tanning beds carry the above warning. Currently, tanning beds are considered Class I medical devices; the FDA recommended, however, that the beds be reclassed as Class II medical devices along with the addition of the consumer warning.

Teens and young adults are affected by melanoma - a highly invasive skin cancer - more than all but one other type of cancer. The updated dangerous product warnings may go a long way to help protect this group of people from the aggressive cancer that the FDA believes may be connected to the use of a dangerous medical device: the tanning bed.

The FDA's recommendations, according to its website, are based at least in part on the findings of a 2009 study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer that connected the use of tanning beds to:

  • Melanoma (a type of skin cancer)
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (a type of skin cancer)
  • Ocular melanoma (a type of eye cancer)
  • DNA damage that may increase the risk of developing cancer

The study found a 75 percent increase in the likelihood of developing melanoma in those who used a tanning bed before age 35.

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) believes a much stronger stance against the dangerous "medical device" is necessary. It recommends a complete ban on the use of tanning beds by people under age 18. The AAD asserts that many tanning salons are dangerously underinformed about the potential consequences of indoor tanning beds, particularly for young people and that means that they are then unable to fully inform their customers of the risks related to artificial tans.

The FDA is taking comments on the proposed warning and reclassification. If the recommendations are made final, salon owners will have up to a year to comply with the warning requirements.

Source: MedPage Today, "FDA: Tanning Beds Need Cancer Warning Label," May 7, 2013

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