FDA Advisory Committee Meeting to Review Tanning Bed Regulations

The Skin Cancer Foundation Urges the FDA to Enact Stricter Regulations

New York, NY (March 25, 2010) - In light of mounting evidence about the dangers of indoor tanning, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is conducting a meeting with their Medical Devices Advisory Panel to review the classification of tanning beds today in Gaithersburg, MD. The Skin Cancer Foundation is urging The FDA to enact stricter regulations on tanning beds, including prohibiting the use of tanning beds by minors.

Currently, the FDA classifies indoor tanning beds as Class I medical devices, which means these cancer-causing machines are in the same category as tongue depressors and elastic bandages, and subject to few regulations and little oversight.

"The Skin Cancer Foundation commends the FDA's decision to convene this meeting and encourages the Panel to recommend reclassification and impose new regulatory controls on indoor tanning," said Allan Halpern, MD, Vice President, The Skin Cancer Foundation. "The existing regulations do not match the severity of the health threat tanning beds pose. Urgent action is needed by the FDA because this is one of the few cancers for which a preventative option truly exists."

The Foundation recommends that the FDA reclassify tanning beds as Class II devices with specific restrictions. This designation will help:

  • Prevent minors from indoor tanning
  • Require adults to sign a consent form outlining the risks associated with indoor tanning
  • Ensure tanning beds are manufactured and labeled appropriately for use only in licensed facilities
  • Require manufacturers to establish a registry in order to monitor use.

Exposure to UV rays through indoor tanning is a major cause of skin cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), affiliated with the World Health Organization (WHO), recently added tanning beds to its "Group I" list, which identifies the most harmful forms of radiation. In addition to the established link between UV radiation and nonmelanoma skin cancers, a new study by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute shows that the vast majority of mutations found in melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, are caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation. First exposure to tanning beds before the age of 35 increases melanoma risk by 75 percent.

"The science reinforces the contribution of tanning to skin cancer, including melanoma," Halpern said. "If enforced, the regulations we are suggesting have the potential to reduce the incidence of skin cancer which is now occurring at epidemic levels."

For hourly updates on the March 25 meeting, follow The Skin Cancer Foundation's Director of Communications on Twitter (www.Twitter.com, @SkinCancerOrg).