New York, NY (March 26, 2010) - The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) General and Plastic Surgery Devices Panel recommended up classifying tanning beds to Class II with restrictions or possibly even Class III after a day long meeting in Gaithersburg, MD yesterday. They also agreed that tanning bed use by minors needs increased regulations by either banning use by minors or requiring parental consent.
While no specific recommendations were made, the 16 member panel agreed that tanning beds are dangerous and there is no such thing as a safe tan.
"It is our obligation to protect our children from UV damage," said panel member Lynn Drake, MD, Harvard Medical School.
"The skin cancer and dermatologic communities came together and presented compelling personal stories and rigorous scientific evidence demonstrating the dangers of indoor tanning," said Allan Halpern, MD, Vice President, The Skin Cancer Foundation. "The Advisory Panel made excellent recommendations and now it's up to the FDA to take action."
The FDA has regulated tanning beds for 20 years as Class I medical devices, which means these cancer-causing machines are subject to few regulations and little oversight. Exposure to UV rays through indoor tanning is a major cause of skin cancer which now affects more than two million people a year. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a working group of the World Health Organization (WHO), recently added tanning beds to its "Group One" list, which identifies these devices as "carcinogenic to humans". The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also categorizes ultraviolet (UV) radiation as a proven human carcinogen. 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 UV radiation. First exposure to tanning beds before the age of 35 increases melanoma risk by 75 percent.
"This meeting was a very positive and important first step in truly making a significant change," said Halpern. "Our next step is to follow-up with the FDA to ensure the process keeps moving forward."