FDA: Melanoma the deadliest skin cancer produce by tanning beds


According to the FDA, Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer.  It is the second most common form of cancer for young adults.  An estimated 2.3 million teenagers use tanning beds each year.

At present, tanning beds are rated as ‘class one devices’, no more harmful than Band-aids or ‘Q’ tips.  The FDA wants to change that.  “These products aren’t required to be reviewed before going on the market”, said Jeff Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

The proposed changes would re-classify tanning beds as ‘class two devices’, in the same category as CT scanners which emanate significant radiation.

Jeff Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, says:  “There will be requirements that products have to meet in order to go on the market.”  They will also have warning labels on related publications not to use the devices, if the customer has skin cancer or open skin lesions, or if they have a family history of skin cancer.

The FDA has been regulating tanning beds is some form for over 30 years.  They have advised anyone age 18 and under not to use them.  They want to add that admonition to pamphlets, catalogues, and websites that promote their use.

Studies have shown that the chances of getting melanoma are 75% higher in individuals who have used devices producing ultraviolet radiation, in particular tanning beds.  Melanoma has been on the rise for 30 years.  And, although the highest numbers of cases are in the age division of 40-50, the root cause is spending too much time in the sun when they were younger.

Physicians across the United States have been urging the FDA to take action on the dangers of tanning beds for years.  They have seen a drastic increase in melanoma in teens, and in those in their early 20’s.

“As a dermatologist I see the consequences of indoor tanning. I have to diagnose too many young people with melanoma and see the grief that it causes to these families,” said Dr. Mary Maloney of the American Academy of Dermatology, on a call with FDA officials.

Earlier this year, a study of Missouri tanning salons found that 65 percent of 250 businesses surveyed would accept children ages 10 to 12, often without parental permission.

Another study revealed that 58% of teenagers received sunburns while using the beds.  “If you get an indoor tan you shouldn’t be burning,” Shuren said.

“The FDA is requiring that the labels and pamphlets include risk information about skin cancer, but consumers would not be required to see those labels or pamphlets; they are apparently only for the company buying the tanning bed,” said Diana Zuckerman, of the National Research Center for Women and Families.

James Turnage

Columnist-The Guardian Express

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