March 25, 2010 — The FDA should keep children and teens from using tanningbeds — or at least make sure their parents have signed a consent form warningof tanning-bed dangers, an FDA advisory panel today recommended.
The panel also appeared likely to recommend that the FDA further restricttanning beds and tanning lamps. At press time — 10 hours after the meetingbegan — panel deliberations continued.
Tanning beds and tanning lamps are listed as FDA Class 1 devices — thoseleast likely to cause harm. Elastic bandages are an example of Class 1devices.
The 16-member panel seemed likely to advise the FDA to list tanning beds asClass 2 devices, which require special assurances, such as labelingrequirements or mandatory performance standards, that they will not cause harm.Class 2 devices include X-raymachines and poweredwheelchairs.
The panel did not directly vote on its recommendations, but instead willpresent a consensus opinion to the federal regulatory agency.
Tannings Beds: No Benefit, Small to Moderate Risk
Getting a tan, whether from a tanning bed or the sun, raises cancer risk.Last year, tanning beds were declared “carcinogenic to humans” by the World HealthOrganization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
In its presentation to its panel of experts, the FDA relied heavily on theIARC’s analysis of tanning-bed research. However, the FDA noted that the IARC’sreport, added to previous research, suggests only “a small to moderate riskof skin cancer independently due to the use of tanning beds or lamps.”
However, the FDA stressed that the risk appears greater when tanning bed usebegins in childhood.
On the other hand, the FDA told the panel that tanning beds offer nocredible medical benefit.
Medical groups have weighed in on the issue. The American Academy ofDermatologyAssociation (AADA) opposesindoor tanning and supports a ban on the sale of indoor tanning equipment fornonmedical purposes. Short of a ban, the AADA would like the FDA at least torestrict tanning facilities and equipment from being marketed as safe.
And the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) would like to see a banon the use of tanning beds by children. The AAP advises anyone under age 21 toavoid indoor tanning.
The advisory panel’s actions are not binding, but the FDA relies heavily onits outside experts in reaching regulatory decisions.
The Indoor Tanning Association (ITA) opposes further regulation oftanning beds. The ITA was not able to comment before the panel finished itsdeliberations.