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The FDA takes overdue action to warn consumers about the risks.
Friday, May 10, 2013
The Food and Drug Administration is taking overdue action to alert users about the cancer risk associated with indoor tanning beds and to warn teenagers not to use them.
Recent studies show that the risk of melanoma — the deadliest form of skin cancer — is 75 percent higher among people who have been exposed to ultraviolet radiation from indoor tanning. That word needs to get out to teenagers. An estimated 2.3 million of them use indoor tanning facilities each year, and melanoma has become the second most common form of cancer among young adults.
Despite calls by physician groups for stronger regulations, tanning beds have been classified as “low risk” devices that don’t require review before going on the market. Under a proposal unveiled Monday, the FDA would reclassify tanning beds as “moderate risk” devices and would require manufacturers to meet certain performance and safety standards. The devices would carry warning labels that spell out the risks of using them and warn people younger than 18 to avoid them.
The FDA will take public comment for 90 days before finalizing the regulations. If the agency implements the new standards, perhaps Virginia lawmakers will have the wisdom to revisit legislation that would ban children younger than 15 from using tanning beds and require teens aged 15 to 17 to have parental consent. The state Senate passed such a bill earlier this year 34-5, but the House Commerce and Labor Committee killed it after the indoor tanning industry stepped up its lobbying.
Virginia does not allow people younger than 18 to buy tobacco products, which have obvious health risks that include cancer. Vain teenagers may resent restrictions on tanning bed use, but reasonable prevention measures will improve their chances of becoming happy and healthy adults.
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