The Prevent Cancer Foundation supports Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (NY) as she pushes the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban the use of tanning beds for minors under the age of 18. Rep. Maloney recently stood on the steps of New York City Hall to promote this nationwide ban, stating that “All across America today, teenagers will be making a purely fashion and fad decision that could be harmful to their health, and in fact cause cancer.” Each year 2.3 million U.S. teenagers tan indoors.
Indicated a shift in their approach to the devices, the FDA recently changed its regulation to put stricter warnings on tanning beds, reclassifying them with a black box warning, which is the strongest measure used to inform consumers of risk. The warnings alert frequent users that they should regularly be screened for skin cancer and that the lamps should not be used by minors under 18.
People who spend time in the sun, or in tanning beds, are at an increased risk for skin cancer. Indoor tanning beds emit UVA and UVB radiation at levels that can be 15 times stronger than the sun. More than 170,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer in the U.S. each year are associated with indoor tanning and just one indoor tanning session increases users’ chances of developing melanoma by 20 percent.
Skin cancer is not a disease that affects only aging individuals. Approximately one in four individuals who develop melanoma are under the age of 40. The International Agency for Research on Cancer states that there is a clear increase in melanoma risk associated with the use of tanning beds by men and women in their teens and twenties.