New FDA Tanning Bed Regulations

Getting a suntan increases your risk of developing skin cancer. It doesn’t matter if the UV rays responsible for your bronzing skin come from the sun or from a tanning bed. They are both ultra-violet rays that are known to cause cancer by causing damage to the DNA in your skin cells.

Posted on | Susan Evans, MD | Comments ()

Getting a suntan increases your risk of developing skin cancer. It doesn’t matter if the UV rays responsible for your bronzing skin come from the sun or from a tanning bed. They are both ultra-violet rays that are known to cause cancer by causing damage to the DNA in your skin cells.

Skin cancer is being diagnosed at alarming rates, and the ages of those who are diagnosed are getting younger and younger.  It used to be that skin cancer diagnoses were for older people who have had many years of unprotected sun exposure. 

Tanning beds are very popular for achieving a suntan indoors, used by over 30 million Americans; 75% of whom are young women under the age of 30. The growing incidence of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, in teenagers is directly attributed to UV ray exposure. Dr. William James, president of the American Academy of Dermatology said, "What was formerly considered a disease of older men is ballooning in young women, the very target audience and number one customer of the tanning industry.”

Last summer the World Health Organization (WHO) listed tanning beds in its highest category of sources “carcinogenic to humans.” Here in the United States, federal health experts have gathered to discuss new FDA regulations regarding tanning beds. They have taken the warning by WHO very seriously. Their recommendation is to ban the use of tanning beds for teenagers under the age of 18 unless they get parental consent.

The concern is the continued exposure to UV radiation, especially for young people. According to the melanoma research foundation, exposure to UV radiation from tanning beds before the age of 35 increases an individual’s risk of developing melanoma by 75%. Most forms of melanoma are caused by cell mutation due to UV radiation exposure.

For the past 20 years, the FDA has regulated tanning beds as Class I medical devices.  This meant that there were few regulations overseeing this industry.  Because more than 2 million people suffer from skin cancer, tanning salons have come under increased scrutiny. For this reason, federal health experts are insisting on new restrictions designed to protect teenagers from the cancer-causing risks of tanning beds.

As of March 25, 2010 all teenagers wishing to enjoy the services of a tanning bed must get signed parental consent prior to treatment. 

The Obama health-care initiative has imposed a 10% tax on tanning salon services.

Blog written by Susan Evans, MD
Dr. Susan Evans is an internationally acclaimed, health and beauty expert one of Oprah's and Dr. Oz's healthy skin and beauty...