Ask FDA to Consider Scientific Evidence of Skin Cancer Risk When Re-examining Classification of Tanning Beds
WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 3, 2011) - The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), American Cancer Society (ACS) Cancer Action Network, American College of Physicians (ACP), American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), American Medical Association (AMA), American Osteopathic Association (AOA), Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF), National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention (NCSCP) and Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF) joined today with congressional leaders and patients in support of the Tanning Bed Cancer Control Act (TBCCA), introduced by Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Charlie Dent (R-PA), which calls on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to re-examine the classification of indoor tanning beds. Currently, the FDA classifies indoor tanning devices as Class 1, the category for items that have minimal potential to cause harm to individuals, such as adhesive bandages and tongue depressors.
The health care organizations held a congressional briefing to discuss the importance of the TBCCA and the need for increased regulation of indoor tanning in light of mounting scientific evidence showing that indoor tanning increases the risk for developing skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. At the briefing, the AADA shared results of a new survey that found that an alarming number of Caucasian teen girls and young women - a fair-skinned group who are at high risk for developing melanoma - are not being warned about the dangers of tanning beds by indoor tanning establishments.
Physicians and other health care advocates are particularly concerned about the impact of indoor tanning on young women.
"Dermatologists have made skin cancer prevention, particularly related to indoor tanning, an advocacy priority for more than a decade. We commend Representatives Maloney and Dent for taking the lead in introducing this important legislation. This bill sends a strong message to the public that indoor tanning is not safe and federal regulation should reflect the true risks of indoor tanning," said Ronald L. Moy, MD, FAAD, president of the AADA. "Our new survey demonstrates that it is imperative that we reach out to our young people and correct the misconception that a tan is a sign of good health while reinforcing the message that a tan is the body's response to damage from ultraviolet light."
"Physicians are concerned that tanning bed regulations have not been examined since the 1980s, and there have been many recent studies showing the link between UV radiation from tanning beds and the development of all forms of skin cancer," said Cecil B. Wilson, MD, president of the AMA.
Using tanning beds increases one's risk for melanoma by 75 percent and melanoma is now the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old, and is the second most common form of cancer for adolescents and young adults 15-29 years old.
"Pediatricians are on the front line treating young people who need to understand that indoor tanning can cause skin cancer," said O. Marion Burton, MD, FAAP, president of the AAP. "We are seeing rapidly increasing skin cancer rates, particularly for melanoma in young women and our patients need to hear the message that tanning beds are not safe."
Melanoma is increasing faster in females 15-29 years old than in males in the same age group. "Promoting women's health issues is central to our mission and we see the issue of indoor tanning as a growing problem, especially among young women," said Richard N. Waldman, MD, president of the ACOG.
Studies also have demonstrated that exposure to UV radiation during indoor tanning can lead to eye damage. "The AAO is committed to educating people that the eyes are at risk from UV exposure during indoor tanning," said Richard L. Abbott, MD, president of AAO. "Tanning beds can produce UV levels up to 100 times what you would get from the sun, which can cause serious damage to the external and internal structures of the eye and eyelids."
As the number of diagnosed cases of skin cancer continues to increase - current estimates are that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer during his or her lifetime - prevention and early diagnosis of skin cancer remain important health messages for all health care organizations.
"Prevention is one of the most valuable tools that we have as physicians. This legislation is an important step in educating patients about the risks of indoor tanning and encouraging healthy decisions to prevent skin cancer," said Virginia L. Hood, MBBS, MPH, FACP, president of ACP.
"Everyone needs to take preventative steps to protect themselves from unnecessary ultraviolet exposure, including avoiding indoor tanning beds. The regulation of indoor tanning devices needs to be updated to reflect what we know about their carcinogenic effects," said Edward E. Partridge, MD, president of the ACS.
"Approximately 75 percent of all skin cancer deaths are from melanoma" said Tim Turnham, PhD, executive director of the MRF. "The Melanoma Research Foundation supports this Act and hopes that it also will educate the public about the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of melanoma, and the need for a cure."
"The Tanning Bed Cancer Control Act has the potential to have a real impact on how tanning beds are regulated. The damage caused by UV radiation from tanning beds is cumulative and often irreversible, and the earlier people start to tan, the higher their risk of developing skin cancer in their lifetimes," said Perry Robins, MD, president of SCF.
"The AOA feels strongly that the Tanning Bed Cancer Control Act is the right step in encouraging the public to make healthy lifestyle choices, especially when it comes to their skin," said Karen J. Nichols, DO, president of AOA.
"As the united voice of 45 organizations, associations, and agencies dedicated to reducing skin cancer morbidity and mortality in the U.S., the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention supports the Tanning Bed Cancer Control Act as a positive step toward better protection and education for the public," said Sandra I. Read, MD, FAAD, co-chair of the NCSCP.
Following the briefing, dermatologists offered free skin cancer screenings, and individuals had their photos taken with a UV camera which shows the sun damage beneath the skin.
May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. Visit www.melanomamonday.org to find out how to perform a skin self-exam, download a body mole map or find free skin cancer screenings in your area.
About the Skin Cancer Foundation:
The Skin Cancer Foundation is the only global organization solely devoted to the prevention, early detection and treatment of skin cancer. The mission of the Foundation is to decrease the incidence of skin cancer through public and professional education and research. For more information, visit www.SkinCancer.org.