This spring, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is examining its options regarding indoor tanning regulations and different ways of informing consumers about the potential health risks of UV exposure.
Recent information from the World Health Organization's cancer division and other studies were among the factors that prompted the FDA to re-examine warning labels and other means of keeping consumers informed about any potential risks.
One former customer who tanned as a youth and later developed melanoma – but acknowledges that she can’t prove it was the result of indoor tanning – suggests that any small warning labels on the equipment she used weren’t forceful enough to make her consider stopping.
The FDA will weigh the recommendations of a special scientific advisory panel – to be discussed in an open hearing – this March. Among the suspected areas of review are the Class 1 status of tanning beds (at the lower end of risk when it comes to medical devices), warning signage and the current Sunlamp Standards.
Tanning salon owners, as represented by the Indoor Tanning Association (ITA), charge that there is no fresh scientific evidence prompting the need for this response. In fact, they are advocates for tanning in moderation – and are the first to inform their customers how to avoid overexposure, especially outdoors in the sunlight. The FDA cites that some people use indoor tanning equipment too often.
A spokesman for the Skin Cancer Foundation, Dr. David Fisher of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, does admit that it would be difficult to measure the impact of decreasing indoor tanning since most all people are also exposed to the sun.
Dr. Margaret Tucker of the National Cancer Institute acknowledges that their goal is not to keep people hiding inside away from the sun, essentially becoming “indoor cave-dwellers.” She also notes that a good tan can provide the equivalent a low level of sunscreen.
The Washington Post: FDA debates tougher cancer warning on tanning beds