The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) continually warns the public about the dangers of indoor tanning. Now the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also taking steps to warn the public about the possibility of harm due to the use of tanning devices.
Exposure to UV radiation is linked to skin cancer and premature aging. It can also damage the immune system. Studies show that more than 1.3 million new skin cancers are detected each year in the United States. Most skin cancers such as basal or squamous cell carcinoma are easily curable. But new research demonstrates that melanoma, a fatal skin cancer, is also linked to UV exposures. According to the AAD, there is a 75% increase in the risk of developing melanoma due to UV exposure and indoor tanning.
This past August, the FDA closed the comment period on proposed changes in the classification and labeling of indoor tanning products. Sunlamps and tanning beds are currently classified as class I or low risk devices. The proposed reclassifying would make the devices class II or moderate risk. The changes would not ban indoor tanning but place a warning on use of the devices especially for those consumers under the age of 18.
The Indoor Tanning Association (ITA) represents indoor tanning facility owners, manufacturers and distributors. The ITA's latest press release questions the validity of the research relied upon by the FDA. ITA also claims that the additional governmental scrutiny may place additional financial burdens upon its members.
Who to believe? Exposure to UV radiation is a major cause of skin cancer and premature aging. Unfortunately, these are delayed effects that often take years to show up. Limiting your exposure now can benefit your health later.