FDA Slaps Black Box Warning on Tanning Bed Lamps May 29, 2014 — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a “Black Box” warning label about the risk of cancer from tanning beds for people under 18 years old.

Exposure to UV radiation, whether from the sun or indoor tanning beds, can cause skin cancer, skin burns, premature skin aging, and eye damage (both short- and long-term). According to the FDA Safety Warning:

“Sunlamp products, which include tanning beds and tanning booths, emit UV radiation that may cause skin cancer. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, people who have been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning experience a 59 percent increase in the risk of melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer. This risk increases each time they use a sunlamp product.”

The FDA will now consider ultraviolet lights and sunlamps to be Class II, or “moderate”-risk devices. They will also require some marketing materials to include additional warnings. New products must prove they are “substantially equivalent” to other products already on the market, or else prove the new devices are safe and effective. Previously, tanning beds were not subject to any review by health regulators.

The FDA has been regulating tanning beds for over 30 years, but this is the first time they have required warnings about the risk of cancer. Young people under 18 and those with a family history of skin cancer have the highest risk of melanoma.

Since 1975, the incidence of melanoma among white females has tripled to 24 cases per 100,000 people in 2010. According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 140,000 new cases of melanoma are expected to be diagnosed this year and the disease is expected to cause 9,710 deaths.

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