The end of indoor tanning for minors may be near, given the fact that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed that tanning beds should only be used by those who are at least 18 years old.
Also on the FDA’s list of recommendations is that those who produce this type of equipment meant to provide an aesthetically appealing tan thanks to ultraviolet radiation should introduce more precise and detailed warning labels, so that users can be fully aware of the risks that they expose themselves to.
As explained by Stephen Ostroff, acting commissioner at the FDA, these new guidelines are meant to offer extra protection to children and teenagers who may not be extremely knowledgeable regarding the dangers of indoor tanning.
According to numerous studies, this type of activity, involving either a tanning bed, a sunlamp or a booth, is one of the most significant risk factors for skin cancer, such as squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma and melanoma (the one with the highest mortality, estimated at 9,000 per year).
In addition, as experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have pointed out, radiation associated with ultraviolet light also increases the likelihood of developing ocular melanoma (eye cancer) or cataracts.
All these health hazards are particularly high for those who become fans of indoor tanning at an early age, probably because, as the American Academy of Dermatology has proven, the risk is cumulative, constantly rising with additional exposure.
Although adolescents are the most vulnerable when they use artificial means in order to have a sun-kissed complexion, the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System has revealed that tanning beds and other similar devices have remained popular among 13% of all high-schoolers, with around 1 out of 5 of all females in this age group regularly opting for indoor tanning.
Apparently, the percentage of those who turn to other means of getting a tan without direct sun exposure is even higher among non-Hispanic white girls, 31% of all such high-schoolers resorting to this type of cosmetic service on a regular basis.
Since tanning beds have been linked to a 59% rise in the probability of suffering from melanoma, this may explain why the number of newly diagnosed skin cancers of this type has escalated in recent in the last decades, increasing from 11.2 per 100,000 individuals back in 1982, to 22.7 per 100,000 individuals in 2011.
If these trends continue unchecked, the CDC warns that this would result in 112,000 new diagnoses per year, by the year 2030.
That is why the FDA is planning to prohibit indoor tanning among minors, an activity which is already banned in 23 states. Its purpose is also to regulate this industry even when it comes to customers who are over the age of 18.
More precisely, before using a tanning bed for the first time, individuals would have to sign a document stating that they are aware of the dangers that this activity involves.
Such acknowledgements would also have to be provided every six months as well, so that clients can be reminded of these growing risks.
Meanwhile, the Indoor Tanning Association has reacted against the FDA’s proposal, claiming that the government shouldn’t interfere with the way minors opt for this service; instead, parents should be the only ones to have a say in the choices made by their children.
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